Penn Researchers Identify Genes that Could Better Predict Response to BRAF Inhibitors for Patients with Advanced Melanoma


June 2, 2011

Penn Medicine News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 2, 2011
(Findings will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting at 1:15 pm CST on June 6, 2011)

CONTACT:
Holly Auer
Cell: (215) 200-2313
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu

Abstract #8501: Tumor genetic analyses of patients with metastatic melanoma treated with the BRAF inhibitor GSK2118436 (GSK436)

(CHICAGO) -- Genetic analysis of the tumors from patients with advanced melanoma can clue researchers in to how well patients will respond to a therapy that targets the growth-promoting protein called BRAF, a researcher from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania will report on Monday, June 6 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Looking outside of the BRAF gene, the researchers found loss of the tumor suppressor gene PTEN also appears to be associated with patient response to GSK436, which could help guide researchers to even more personalized approaches to melanoma therapy.

The phase I clinical trial data highlight the role that genetic changes other than that in BRAF may play in a patient's resistance to BRAF inhibitors, a targeted therapy that has shown unprecedented efficacy among patients with metastatic disease.

"These findings are important because they suggest that performing genetic characterization of melanomas for genetic changes outside of BRAF could help predict the patients that may have worse responses to BRAF inhibitors," says Katherine Nathanson, MD, an associate professor of Medical Genetics in Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, who led the study. Armed with such information, a physician could prescribe a different drug or combination of drugs to target these advanced cancers. Guiding such decisions early can save time in the race to control metastatic melanomas, which commonly kill patients within a year after they're identified...Read More