New developments in the treatment of metastatic melanoma – role of dabrafenib–trametinib combination therapy
Jason J Luke, Patrick A Ott
Melanoma Disease Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Abstract: Development of selective inhibitors of BRAF has improved the survival of patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma. The progression-free survival after treatment with a BRAF inhibitor is modest, however, and BRAF inhibitors induce cutaneous toxicity, likely due to paradoxical activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. Combining selective BRAF and MEK inhibition, such as the BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib and the MEK inhibitor trametinib, has been shown to improve the response rate and progression-free survival in patients with advanced melanoma while significantly alleviating the paradoxical activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase. This combination treatment results in a reduction in skin toxicity relative to that seen with a BRAF inhibitor alone; however, addition of the MEK inhibitor adds other toxicities, such as pyrexia and gastrointestinal or ocular toxicity. While combined BRAF–MEK inhibition appears primed to become a standard molecular approach for BRAF-mutant melanoma, the utility of the combination has to be considered in the rapidly changing landscape of immunotherapeutics, such as immune checkpoint blockade using anti-cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4 and anti-programmed death-1/programmed death-L1 antibodies. Here we review the development of the dabrafenib plus trametinib combination, the characteristics of each drug and the combination, and the role of this combination in the management of patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma.
Keywords: BRAF, dabrafenib, trametinib, melanoma
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