New molecular targets found in melanoma

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Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:13 am | Updated: 10:15 am, Thu Dec 19, 2013.

Recent research has found two novel BRAF fusions in melanomas that were previously considered to be negative for molecular targets, and melanomas with these fusions were found to be potentially sensitive to anticancer drugs known as MEK inhibitors.

“About 35 percent of melanomas are, as of today, considered ‘pan-negative,’ which means they are devoid of any previously known driver mutations in the genes BRAF, NRAS, KIT, GNAQ, and GNA11. Here at Vanderbilt, we have been interested in looking at patients whose tumors have none of these driver mutations, to see what their tumors do have that can be targeted therapeutically,” Jeffrey A. Sosman, M.D., professor of medicine at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn., was quoted as saying.

Researchers used the FoundationOne platform to conduct an analysis called targeted next-generation sequencing. They found that 8 percent of pan-negative melanomas have BRAF fusions. “Our results are important because they obviously suggest that there probably are other, as yet unidentified, molecular changes that make these melanomas susceptible to drugs that are available right now,” Dr. Sosman was quoted as saying.

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