Posted: January 1, 2023

The discovery of the BRAF V-600E mutation in tumors of patients with metastatic melanoma has led to the development of a series of new drugs, such as dabrafenib and trametinib — which have been used with some success.  Simultaneously the immune checkpoint system was discovered and drugs developed to combat this phenomenon.  These drugs are also effective against melanoma and are responsible for the dramatic saving of the life of former President Jimmy Carter.  So which drugs should you use in patients with the BRAF mutation?  This was an open question until recently, when investigators from the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown, the University of Pittsburgh and others published a landmark study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.  Click here for an abstract of the article; Dr. Stark can provide the entire article if you fill in the box on the right of this screen.  The authors found that even in patients whose melanoma tumors contained the BRAF mutation, the combination of immune checkpoint inhibitors worked much better.  Dr. Stark’s comments: This study puts to rest this issue.  The difference in survival in the two groups — 71 versus 51 months — is substantial and meaningful.  The authors have established a new standard of care for this group of patients.  Stay tuned for more, newer and better results.