Zelboraf doubles survival time of skin cancer patients
A revolutionary new treatment for skin cancer, Vemurafenib, or Zelboraf as it is more popularly known, is capable of doubling the survival times of patients with advanced cases of the disease.
Its potential was revealed during an international study in which it was tested on 132 patients at 13 medical centres across Australia and the US.
On average, these patients, whose melanoma had spread to other organs, lived for an average of 16 months, almost double the nine months patients on traditional treatments survived for.
The drug is only one of a handful of new treatments for melanoma to reach the market in 13 years, after receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August last year.
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Zelboraf is manufactured by Roche subsidiary Genetech and the study of the medication was headed up by a research team from the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in the US.
"This study shows that Zelboraf changes the natural history of this disease," commented Dr. Antoni Ribas, the senior author of the research.
“This data is beyond what I would have expected.
“We're seeing a significant number of patients with durable responses to the drug, and that the whole group of treated patients is living longer,” he said.
“These results tell us that this drug is having a very big impact, and this changes the way we treat metastatic melanoma.”
Zelboraf needs to be taken on a twice daily basis and blocks a protein called BRAF V600E, which promotes cell growth.
Only 14 percent of patients did not respond to Zelboraf, but over half – 53 percent – saw their tumours reduce in size by approximately 30 percent.
The remaining 30 percent of patients also responded to the treatment but to a lesser extent; their tumours shrank by less than 30 percent.
The results of the study have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“We knew this drug would make the melanomas shrink in a large proportion of patients and that it worked better than chemotherapy,” Ribas added.
“We did not know that patients taking Zelboraf were living longer until now.”
While these results are promising, the researchers have warned that it is likely that patients could build up a resistance to Zelboraf, although there is work currently to taking place to prevent this from happening.
Aside from Zelboraf, there have been few other melanoma treatments to receive FDA approval.
However, in March 2011, Ipilimumab, or Yervoy as it is otherwise known, is an immunotherapy treatment that was approved by the FDA for metastatic melanoma.
Yervoy is a human CTLA-4-blocking antibody thought to act by harnessing a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer cells by augmenting T-cell activation and proliferation.
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Dubai's new smart neuro spinal hospital: need to know
We take a look at Dubai's new smart hospital.
What: The Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre is a new hospital featuring state-of-the-art technology for spinal, neurosurgical, neurological, orthopaedic, radiosurgery and cancer treatments. The 700 million AED hospital, (equivalent to £138 million), has 114 beds, smart patient rooms, and green spaces for patient rehabilitation, and is four times the capacity of its former premises in Jumeirah. It is also the UAE’s first hospital to have surgical robots.
Where: The hospital is located in the Dubai Science Park. Founded in 2005, Dubai Science Park is home to more than 350 companies from multinational corporations in life sciences, biotechnology and research; over 4,000 people work here each day.
Who: The UAE's Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre was first established in Jumeirah in 2002 by Dr. Abdul Karim Msaddi, as the first as the first "super-specialty" neuroscience hospital.
Why: With advanced diagnosis and robotics, the hospital will provide care across neuroscience, spine, orthopaedics and oncology for people residing in the UAE, as well as international patients.
Prof. Abdul Karim Msaddi, Chairman and Medical Director of the hospital, said: “We are proud to bring world-class healthcare services to Dubai and believe our next-generation hospital will be a game-changer for the emirate’s and the region’s medical industry.
"It will not only significantly increase the availability of specialist neuroscience and radiosurgery treatments and provide better patient care but help attract and develop local and international talent. Investing in the new centre represents our continued faith in the resilience of the region’s economy, as well as a testament to our ongoing drive towards healthcare innovation in the UAE.”