June 27, 2013
Melanoma, a form of skin cancer, is especially lethal when it metastasizes to other areas of the body. About half of melanomas have a mutation in the BRAF gene, and VICC investigators were instrumental in testing a new drug, which turned out to be a potent inhibitor of a mutated form of BRAF called V600E.
Jeffrey Sosman, M.D., led Phase II trials of the drug vemurafenib (Zelboraf), which found that more than half of patients who were treated with the drug responded to treatment, and median overall survival was nearly 16 months.
Unfortunately, in many cases, patients developed resistance to the drug and their
cancer was growing again. Sosman and colleagues have investigated the resistance and characterized its molecular mechanisms.
Now Sosman is on the hunt for drug therapies for the other half of melanoma patients with no BRAF mutation, known as BRAF wild type. He is profiling wild type tumors at the molecular level and testing for sensitivity to hundreds of compounds that may have therapeutic potential.