Adding lung cancer drugs to targeted melanoma treatment could increase survival for certain patients, according to research published in Cancer Discovery today.
Scientists at Cancer Research UK's Paterson Institute at The University of Manchester showed that lung cancer drugs such as gefitinib (Iressa) can override resistance to new targeted therapies for melanoma, called BRAF inhibitors.
The first BRAF inhibitor, vemurafenib (Zelboraf), was approved for patients on the NHS in 2012, and others are currently in development. They work by targeting a faulty version of the BRAF protein, found in more than half of all melanomas as well as some other types of cancer.
But patients often become resistant to BRAF inhibitors after a short time and their disease returns, leaving them without further treatment options.
Now scientists have found that treating BRAF inhibitor-resistant cancer cells or tumours with the drugs gefitinib or dasatinib, which block a different biological pathway, can halt their growth.
Lead author, professor Richard Marais, director of Cancer Research UK's Paterson Institute at The University of Manchester, says, ''This exciting research shows that two drugs can be better than one in beating this deadly disease.