Posted by: 2in10 | 08/19/2011

personalized medicine

On August 18, 2011 The Wall Street Journal featured an article on page B1, “Guided by Genes, Shrinking Cancer.” Roche Holding AG and Daiichi Sankyo Co. got FDA approval for Vemurafenib, a drug that has shown success in shrinking tumors in metatastic melanoma, a condition that has high morbidity.

Vemurafenib, to be sold as Zelboraf, works in people with a mutation of the gene BRAF, which half the individuals with metastatic melanoma have. The gene causes or contributes to the proliferation of cancer cells.

“In clinical trials, the drug decreased the risk of death among this subset of patients by 64%, compared with people using the standard chemotherapy. Almost 50% of the patients taking the pills had their tumors shrink, compared with 5.5% who received chemotherapy.”

In March 2011 the FDA approved Yervoy, a drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. that helps the individual’s immune system fight metastatic melanoma.

The takeaway: people diagnosed with metastatic melanoma needs to get tested for the mutant BRAF V600E protein before subjecting themselves to chemotherapy that is likely not to work. They and their family and friends need to do all they can to get access to this drug if they have the mutant BRAF gene or to Yervoy or other target therapies that come along.

The FDA is expected to approve crizotinib from Pfizer, Inc., a drug to fight lung cancer, another treatment based on genetic testing.

This is very exciting. In the meantime, do all you can to get well and stay well. And look for those moments of grace that are the icing on the cake of life.



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