Introduction: Sorafenib is an orally available multi-kinase inhibitor that inhibits tumor proliferation by targeting multiple kinases including the vascular endothelial growth factor receptors VEGFR1, VEGFR2, VEGFR3 and the platelet-derived growth factor receptor PDGFR, and it targets tumor progression by inhibiting FLT3, C-Kit and BRAF. Since BRAF mutations are frequent in melanoma, sorafenib was investigated in various Phase I, II and III clinical trials. The drug is well tolerated with mild to moderate adverse effects, which are mostly limited to cutaneous toxicity, diarrhea and fatigue.
Areas covered: Systematic literature review of the randomized trials using PubMed was performed. Original articles were reviewed and citations from those were also considered. Additionally, clinical trial databases were examined to identify and summarize ongoing trials of sorafenib in melanoma patients.
Expert opinion: Sorafenib as a monotherapy or in combination with chemotherapy is of limited use. Combining it with dacarbazine doubled the response rate and the progression-free survival in metastatic melanoma patients. Unfortunately, these results have never been evaluated in large randomized Phase III clinical trials. According to the trials conducted so far a subpopulation of patients experience substantial benefit, therefore it is essential to identify biomarkers to select the subgroups of patients that are more likely to respond to sorafenib. Furthermore, other less frequent subtypes such as mucosal or ocular melanoma still constitute promising targets; academic institutions are currently launching investigator-initiated trials in these indications.