Vemurafenib and Ipilimumab drugs

Dr James Larkin

  • Clinical trials testing the drugs Vemurafenib and Ipilimumab to treat metastatic melanoma
  • Phase I, II and III clinical trials successfully completed
  • NICE approval 2 November 2012

At The Royal Marsden, our long-term goal is to provide every one of our cancer patients with personalised treatment that guarantees their cancer is successfully treated or that they can live comfortably with it.

We want to develop more effective and kinder therapies that target each individual’s type of cancer, so they can enjoy a future beyond cancer. Clinical trials like this will help us achieve this goal.

The Royal Marsden led clinical trials in the UK for the drugs Vemurafenib and Ipilimumab to treat melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body. The results of these trials represented the biggest breakthrough in the treatment of metastatic melanoma for more than 30 years.

Advanced melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, can significantly affect a person’s quality of life and the prognosis for people diagnosed with it is poor.

During The Royal Marsden’s clinical trials, Vemurafenib and Ipilimumab were shown to have a positive impact on our patients’ lives and improve their chances of survival.

The science

Vemurafenib blocks the cancer-causing effects of the mutated BRAF gene. 50% of patients with metastatic melanoma have this mutation in their cancer.

Ipilimumab is designed to seek out and block the action of a protein called CTLA-4. By doing this, Ipilimumab boosts the immune system’s response against melanoma cells in the body.

Help us conduct more cancer research

We are the leading centre for cancer clinical trials in the country, running over 450 trials each year. But it’s not enough. We need investment to be able to run many more clinical trials to achieve the next breakthroughs in cancer treatment.

It’s only by running more clinical trials that we’ll achieve more breakthroughs that will lead to more lives saved.

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