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Melanoma Treatment Drug RG7204 Increases Survival

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2011-01-19 10:17

Swiss drug maker Roche announced late Tuesday that its new melanoma treatment drug RG7204 has shown significant improvements in patient survival rates in its clinical study.

This drug, designed to treat metastatic melanoma, is the first major breakthrough in treatment options for patients with this deadly skin cancer.

Metastatic melanoma is a form of skin cancer which spreads throughout the body. It is the most aggressive and lethal form of skin cancer. Those diagnosed with this cancer have a less than 1 in 4 chance of survival over 1 year. Approximately half of all melanoma patients are believed to have a mutated protein which is responsible for uncontrolled cell division. This rapid cell division results in widespread cancer metastasis. The melanoma treatment drug studied in this trial works by blocking this protein, thus reducing the spread of the cancer and increasing life expectancy.

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In the study, known as BRIM3, patients who were already diagnosed with metastatic melanoma were randomly assigned to receive either the melanoma treatment drug RG7204 or dacarbazine, a standard chemotherapy drug. Common side effects of the RG7204 include rash, sensitivity to light, joint pain, hair loss and fatigue. There were several cases of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer treated by removal. Some patients also experienced increased liver enzymes which were mild and reversible.

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