Vemurafenib (brand name Zelboraf) NEW DISCOVERY

New research on mice shows that drug-resistant melanoma tumors shrink when treatment is interrupted, or given a "holiday", suggesting that altering the dose pattern of cancer drug treatment in this manner could be a simple way to extend survival in human patients with late-stage disease. However, only human trials can verify if this is the case.

Co-lead researcher Martin McMahon, a cancer biologist at UCSF, and colleagues, found that one mechanism by which melanoma cancer cells become resistant to the anti-cancer drug vemurafenib (brand name Zelboraf), also makes them become addicted to it.

The consequence of this simultaneous resistance-cum-addiction to vemurafenib is that the cancer cells then proceed to use the compound to boost the growth of deadly, fast growing, drug-resistant tumors.

Once they made this discovery the team proceeded to experiment with changing patterns of drug dosage to see what effect this might have on mice implanted with melanoma tumors.