Phase I clinical trial shows some promise for investigational drug for melanoma

CHAPEL HILL – An investigational compound designed to block a hyperactive cell growth signal in advanced melanoma and other cancers has shown some promise in an early-stage clinical trial, researchers at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and other institutions have reported.

In JCI Insight, UNC Lineberger’s Stergios Moschos, MD, and colleagues published the results of a phase I, multi-institution clinical trial for an investigational treatment for melanoma and other cancers with mutations in the BRAF or RAS genes. The study involved 26 patients and investigated the novel compound MK-8353, which is designed to block a signal called ERK that has been shown to help drive cancer cell growth in resistant melanoma and other diseases.

While targeted treatments have been approved for melanoma and lung cancers with a specific mutation in the BRAF gene – which causes a cascade of cell growth signals to become hyperactive – the majority of patients develop resistance to these treatments, and their cancer comes back. To combat resistance, researchers at UNC Lineberger and other institutions investigated the MK-8353 compound to try to block downstream signals that help drive resistance, such as ERK, as opposed to the early signals that initially


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