Treating certain types of skin cancer with two Novartis drugs, Tafinlar (dabrafenib) and Mekinist (trametinib), allows patients to survive cancer-free up to five years, according to a breakthrough study.
Researchers tested the drug combination on patients with BRAFV600 mutation-positive metastatic melanoma, regarded as the deadliest form of skin cancer, according to a Novartis press release. Of the 162 participants in two clinical trials, 13 percent treated with both medications reached survival without progression of the disease between four and five years, whereas just 3 percent treated with one of the drugs survived to that point.
Chief researcher Jeff Weber, deputy director of New York University's Perlmutter Cancer Center, said in the release that the two studies tracked outcomes over the longest period to date for the two drugs, which suppress the genetic mutation that causes metastatic melanoma to form, according to a Novartis website.
The next steps will be to track the outcomes of patients who begin treatment with one drug but later add the second to their regime, and to assess potential side effects.