OCT 16, 2013 03:00 PM PDT

Recent Developments in the treatment of Melanoma

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  • Director, Melanoma Clinical Research, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
      Dr. Adil Daud, an oncologist, is co-director of the Melanoma Center and a specialist in melanoma and other skin cancers. In addition to caring for patients, he directs melanoma research to better understand the biology of melanoma and to develop new treatments for the disease. Daud has developed and led many clinical trials that have expanded the use of gene therapy for melanoma. Daud earned a medical degree at the Government Medical College in Nagpur, India. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Indiana University Medical Center, followed by a fellowship in hematology-oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Prior to joining UCSF Medical Center, he was a researcher at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla. for seven years. Daud has won numerous awards, including the American Society for Clinical Oncology's Young Investigator award and Castle Connolly's Best Doctors in America award. He is an associate professor of hematology-oncology at UCSF.


    While Melanoma is very curable and treatable when detected early, late stage melanoma has had a very poor outcome. In 2013, it is estimated that over 80,000 patients in the US will develop melanoma and 8,000 patients will die of this disease. Until 2011, the choices for the treatment of advanced melanoma included only chemotherapy of the immune cytokine, IL-2. Neither of these options was proven to prolong survival and neither worked very frequently (Response Rates ~15%). Recently, however, there have been 2 major advances in melanoma. One has been the discovery of highly specific BRAF inhibitors that can produce responses in 50-80% of patients with BRAF mutant melanoma. These patients constitute a sizable fraction of melanoma patients (50%) so can benefit a lot of patients. Another important advance has been the finding that immune checkpoint inhibitors such as ipilimumab (anti CTLA4 antibody) or anti-PD-1 antibodies can result in long lasting responses in a larger fraction of patients. Together, these and other drugs in the pipeline promise to transform the landscape of melanoma care in the next few years.

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