Combining encorafenib (Braftovi) with binimetinib (Mektovi) has yielded better results than any other form of treatment for advanced melanoma currently on the market.
A phase 3 COLUMBUS trial showed that patients put on a course of encorafenib at 450 mg a day and binimetinib at 45 mg twice daily (COMBO450), had up to 39% improved outcome compared to any previous treatments. The overall survival rate went up, from 16.9 months to 33.6 months, and median progression-free survival (PFS) from 7.3 months to 14.9 months. These very promising results prompted a quick FDA approval.
It seems that the superior effectiveness lies within their ability to target the BRAF mutation, common in most cases of melanoma. The gene provides information for protein formation within cells and is also responsible for helping with cell growth and division. Unfortunately, when the BRAF mutation occurs, it can cause normal cells to become cancerous.
The genetic defect has been studied intensely in recent years and was the basis for another wave of cancer drugs from 2010, with vemurafenib and dabrafenib (Tafinlar), though less impressive. The new duo of Braftovi and Mektovi is also safer and better tolerated.
As with most serious medication, there are some possible side effects, including fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and pain.
While melanoma is one of the less common types of cancer, it is one of the more deadly. There are about 130.000 new cases each year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and the rate of incidence is climbing.
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