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Tafinlar Provides Activity in Some Lung Cancers

The novel drug Tafinlar (dabrafenib) appears to provide anti-cancer activity in some lung cancers, according to results presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Tafinlar is an new drug that was recently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of melanoma.

Tafinlar targets the BRAF V600E mutation, so patients must first be tested for the mutation prior to its use. The BRAF V600E mutation is implicated in the growth of cancer cells. Tafinlar reduces or blocks or the excessive cellular growth caused by BRAF V600E.

Approximately 75-80% of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which refers to the type of cell within the lung from which the cancer originated. It is estimated that 2% or fewer of NSCLC patients have the BRAF V600E mutation, so this group represents a very small percentage of lung cancer patients in total. However, lung cancer is still the biggest killer from cancer in the world, so targeting specific groups of patients with the disease assists in improving survival overall.

Researchers from 12 different countries conducted a clinical trial to evaluate Taflinib in patients with NSCLC with the BRAF VR600E mutation. The trial included 25 patients.

60% of patients achieved disease control (stabilization or shrinking of cancer).
Anti-cancer responses ranged from 4 to 16 months.
Patients who responded to Taflinar were either non-smokers or had a smoking history of 40 pack years or less. Those who had a greater than 40 pack year smoking history did not respond to Taflinar.
Serious side effects occurred in 11 patients.
The researchers concluded that it appears that Taflinar provides significant activity among patients with NSCLC who have the BRAF V600E mutation. Future clinical trials are being planned that include Taflinar plus other targeted agents for this patient population.

Reference: Planchard, D et al. Interim results of phase II study BRF113928 of dabrafenib in BRAF V600E mutation-positive non-small cell lung cancer patients. Proceedings from the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Abstract 8009.