Serous ovarian cancer is a relatively uncommon tumor that could be quite challenging to manage, especially when it’s recurrent.
Among women, ovarian cancer is the 5th most common type of cancer. The risk of getting this cancer in one lifetime is 1 in 78.
In this article, we will cover an interesting targeted treatment that could change the entire standard of care of ovarian cancer.
What is trametinib?
Trametinib is a targeted cancer therapy that goes by the trade name Mekinist.
Doctors prescribe this medication to treat:
- Unresectable or metastatic melanoma caused by a defect in the BRAF gene. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicates that Mekinist should be exclusive for BRAF-positive melanoma cases.
- As part of the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, Mekinist can be prescribed with dabrafenib (trade name Tafinlar) to reach better outcomes. Once again, cancer needs to be BRAF-positive, which we can verify using an FDA-approved test.
How does Mekinist work?
Mekinist targets the MEK1 and MEK2 proteins within the cancer cells. For better outcomes, doctors generally prescribe this drug in combination with a BRAF kinase inhibitor.
To better understand Mekinist’s mechanism of action, here’s a brief overview of the BRAF gene function:
When the BRAF gene translates into the BRAF protein, the latter will relay a signal that informs the cells when to grow and divide. A mutation in the BRAF gene alters the function of this protein. The result is the uncontrolled proliferation of cells because the BRAF protein is constantly signaling them.
As part of this cascade, we can find the MEK1 and MEK2 proteins, which can interfere with these signals and slow down the growth of cancer.
This is a brief simplification of how Mekinist works.
The new findings in the treatment of ovarian cancer
In a recent study published by The Lancet, doctor David Gershenson and his colleagues proved that Mekinist can lower the risk of disease progression or death by up to 52%. The results were contrasted with the standard of care treatment of low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma.
Note that phases II and III of this study are the first to demonstrate the significant improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) in low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma.
PFS is the time period from the start of a treatment until the disease progresses or the death.
The median PFS for patients who received Mekinist, it was around 13 months compared to only 7.2 months in the groups that received standard of care treatment.
As for the objective response rate, which is the percentage of patients whose tumors had shrunk between 30-50% in size, it was 26% for the Mekinist group. Moreover, 59% of patients had stable disease for at least 8 weeks. The median survival was 37.6 months in the Mekinist group. On the other hand, the standard-of-care group had a median survival of 29.2 months.
The results of this study may change the way we view and treat the relatively uncommon type of ovarian cancer (low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma).
We hope that this article managed to clarify the science behind these promising findings and the potential uses of Mekinist in the management of ovarian cancer.
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