Background: Patients with melanoma harbouring Val600 BRAF mutations benefit from treatment with BRAF inhibitors. However, no targeted treatments exist for patients with BRAF wild-type tumours, including those with NRAS mutations. We aimed to assess the use of MEK162, a small-molecule MEK1/2 inhibitor, in patients with NRAS-mutated or Val600 BRAF-mutated advanced melanoma.
Methods: In our open-label, non-randomised, phase 2 study, we assigned patients with NRAS-mutated or BRAF-mutated advanced melanoma to one of three treatment arms on the basis of mutation status. Patients were enrolled at university hospitals or private cancer centres in Europe and the USA. The three arms were: twice-daily MEK162 45 mg for NRAS-mutated melanoma, twice-daily MEK162 45 mg for BRAF-mutated melanoma, and twice-daily MEK162 60 mg for BRAF-mutated melanoma. Previous treatment with BRAF inhibitors was permitted, but previous MEK inhibitor therapy was not allowed. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients who had an objective response (ie, a complete response or confirmed partial response). We report data for the 45 mg groups. We assessed clinical activity in all patients who received at least one dose of MEK162 and in patients assessable for response (with two available CT scans). This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01320085, and is currently recruiting additional patients with NRAS mutations (based on a protocol amendment).
Findings: Between March 31, 2011, and Jan 17, 2012, we enrolled 71 patients who received at least one dose of MEK162 45 mg. By Feb 29, 2012 (data cutoff), median follow-up was 3·3 months (range 0·6-8·7; IQR 2·2-5·0). No patients had a complete response. Six (20%) of 30 patients with NRAS-mutated melanoma had a partial response (three confirmed) as did eight (20%) of 41 patients with BRAF-mutated melanoma (two confirmed). The most frequent adverse events were acneiform dermatitis (18 [60%] patients with NRAS -mutated melanoma and 15 [37%] patients with the BRAF-mutated melanoma), rash (six [20%] and 16 [39%]), peripheral oedema (ten [33%] and 14 [34%]), facial oedema (nine [30%] and seven [17%]), diarrhoea (eight [27%] and 15 [37%]), and creatine phosphokinase increases (11 [37%] and nine [22%]). Increased creatine phosphokinase was the most common grade 3-4 adverse event (seven [23%] and seven [17%]). Four patients had serious adverse events (two per arm), which included diarrhoea, dehydration, acneiform dermatitis, general physical deterioration, irregular heart rate, malaise, and small intestinal perforation. No deaths occurred from treatment-related causes.
Interpretation: To our knowledge, MEK162 is the first targeted therapy to show activity in patients with NRAS -mutated melanoma and might offer a new option for a cancer with few effective treatments.
Funding: Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.