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Antisense Drug May Help in Metastatic Melanoma

Survival may be further improved among patients with normal lactate dehydrogenase levels

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Adding the antisense oligonucleotide drug, oblimersen, to dacarbazine therapy may increase survival among patients with advanced melanoma, particularly those with normal baseline serum lactate dehydrogenase, researchers report in the Oct. 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Agop Y. Bedikian, M.D., of the University of Texas M.D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues found that advanced melanoma patients who received 1,000 mg/m2 of dacarbazine preceded by a five-day continuous intravenous infusion of 7 mg/kg/day of oblimersen every three weeks for up to eight cycles showed a trend toward improved survival at 24-month minimum follow-up. However, they fell short of meeting this primary endpoint when compared to those solely receiving dacarbazine (9.0 months versus 7.8 months, respectively).

Patients receiving the combined therapy did show significant increases in progression-free survival. Moreover, patients whose baseline serum lactate dehydrogenase was not elevated had a median survival of 11.4 months when oblimersen was added, compared with 9.7 months among those who only received dacarbazine, suggesting a role for patient selection.

There was an increased risk of neutropenia and thrombocytopenia among patients who received combination therapy.

"Oblimersen has clearly made it to first base in the treatment of metastatic melanoma," writes Alexander M.M. Eggermont, of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in an editorial.

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