February 2012

Zelboraf: May Extend Metastatic Melanoma Survival Rate

New Melanoma Drug Offers Some Hope

There's new hope on the horizon for people who have advanced melanoma, or metastatic melanoma. According to a report from the New York Times, a new drug has been found to improve the survival rate of patients who have this form of skin cancer. In a clinical studies, the results indicated that the drug nearly doubled the length of time the patient survived from metastatic melanoma.

The drug is called Zelboraf, and is manufactured by a company called Genentech. Genentech is a United States subsidiary of Roche, a large Swiss pharmaceutical firm. The drug won the Food and Drug Administration last August (2011), and represented the first new treatment for melanoma skin cancer in over 10 years.

The typical survival rate for patients who have melanoma which has spread to other organs is nine months. But results of the study for which people took Zelboraf showed that the survival period lasted an average of 15.9 months -- almost double.

The drug appears to work better than chemotherapy, and is able to shrink melanomas. Zelboraf is taken two times per day. It blocks a specific protein that is associated with cell growth of tumors with a certain gene mutation, which is called BRAF V600E.

According to the report, tumors shrunk by more than 30 percent in approximately 53 percent of the individuals who had the mutations.  Another 30 percent of patients saw their tumors decrease, but not by more than 30 percent as the other group did. Fourteen percent of the patients didn't see a response from Zelboraf.

Happy Birthday St. Jude!

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital turns 50 this month!

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the Memphis-located organization, turns 50 years old this month. This celebration comes on top of another. For the second year in a row, St. Jude was listed as one the 100 best companies to work for by Fortune magazine. What's the reason employees rank their employee so highly? Many, but the two most important reasons are the organizations mission in finding cures and saving children.

St. Jude opened its doors in 1962 to treat childhood cancer. Back then, not as many children with common forms of childhood cancer survived as they do today, due in good part to St. Jude's research and treatment efforts and advancement.

Today, St. Jude is recognized for playing a key role in improving the overall survival rates of children inflicted with cancer. In recognition of this significant impact, the Governor of Tennessee declared the entire month of February "St. Jude Month" in his state.