Dana-Farber researchers say drug puts metastatic melanoma into remission

May 6, 2008

Boston - Researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report that a targeted therapy puts metastatic melanoma into remission, according to news source Ivanhoe.com.

Boston - Researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report that a targeted therapy puts metastatic melanoma into remission, according to news source Ivanhoe.com.

The research profiles a 79-year-old woman who had melanoma tumors in several parts of her abdomen. Because the tumor cells had an abnormality in a gene called KIT, the patient enrolled in a study of Gleevec (imatinib mesylate), a drug that targets the gene.

The researchers report that four weeks after the patient started therapy, two of the tumor masses disappeared while others got smaller. After another four months, the tumors were still under control. After nine months of therapy, the patient still takes Gleevec and her condition remains stable, the study reports.

“This is the first proof of principle that we can find an Achilles heel in melanoma, and by targeting that gene with a drug, cause the cell to die,” Ivanhoe.com quotes the authors as saying. “It is especially exciting because there haven’t been any effective treatments for melanoma patients with metastatic disease.”

The authors note that because KIT mutations are found in only a small percentage of melanomas, Gleevec cannot be used to treat everyone with the disease, but it could help those who have a mutation in a particular section of the gene.