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Roche submits melanoma drug to FDA

pharmafile | December 15, 2014 | News story | Sales and Marketing Cobimeinib, FDA, Roche, Zelboraf, mekinist, melanoma, taflinlar, vemurafenib 

Roche has submitted its melanoma drug cobimeinib for review with the FDA as it confirms the results of its Phase III trial.

The coBRIM study tested the MEK inhibitor combined with Roche’s established treatment Zelboraf (vemurafenib) in patients with BRAF V600 mutation-positive advanced melanoma.

The results showed that the combination therapy increased progression-free survival by 9.9 months compared to 6.2 months with Zelboraf alone.

“In the past several years we have made significant progress in treating advanced melanoma, but it remains a serious and difficult to treat cancer that affects more people each year,” says Sandra Horning, chief medical officer and head of global product development at Genentech.

“We look forward to working with the FDA as they review the NDA and hope the combination of cobimetinib and Zelboraf will soon become a new option for people with BRAF mutation-positive advanced melanoma.”

Melanoma is rarer than other forms of skin cancer, but is one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of the disease and most patients have a poor prognosis. MEK inhibitors like cobimeinib work by blocking the MEK protein and affecting signalling pathways involved in regulating cell division. These pathways are often overactive in cases of melanoma and other cancers.

Zelboraf targets another protein on this pathway – mutant BRAF – to interrupt abnormal signalling that can cause tumours to grow. It has been approved for the treatment of melanoma since 2011 in the US and 2012 in Europe.

Earlier this year GlaxoSmithKline’s own combination treatment of Mekinist (trametinib) and Tafinlar (dabrafenib) was shown to be more effective than Zelboraf in trials, but these latest results may give Roche’s drug a new lease of life.

Cobimeinib was discovered by Exelixis and is being co-developed by Roche’s Genentech subsidiary. It is also being investigated as part of a combination therapy in other cancer types, including non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

Roche says that it has already submitted the data from coBRIM to the EMA.

George Underwood

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