Most dermatologists would like to have biomarkers that lead to the correct diagnosis, the right staging and the optimal treatment of melanoma. This is still a pipe dream, but some candidates are already being discussed.
The potential use of biomarkers in oncology is diverse: Before diagnosis, they could help with screening and risk assessment, during diagnosis they could help to characterize the tumor more closely and later they could facilitate the choice of further therapies or for monitoring serve for recurrences. In this respect, they help to achieve the goal of curing melanoma. Only: “We can’t use them properly yet,” admitted Prof. Dr. Reinhard Dummer from the University Hospital Zurich. We are currently in a learning process.
One problem is that biomarkers are only ever as good as the data associated with them. The best data comes from clinical trials, the speaker said. He is therefore pleased that drug-based studies such as COMBI-AD or COLUMBUS also take into account the genetic and transcriptomic changes in the tumor tissue and its surroundings right from the start.
The results of both studies showed that a combination of BRAF and MEK inhibitors improved progression-free and overall survival in BRAF-mutated advanced melanoma compared to placebo or BRAF inhibitor monotherapy. However, based on the additional molecular markers, it was found that not all those affected benefited equally, the speaker emphasized.
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