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Transcript of audio interview with Richard Marais, Professor of Molecular Oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, from the post “Arthritis drug slows melanoma growth in lab tests“.

“This work represents a very interesting new experimental approach to melanoma, but obviously there’s a long way to go before we can start using these sorts of combinations in patients. We need to do a lot more preclinical studies and a lot more studies in appropriate models.

Don’t forget, this work was initiated in zebrafish, and therefore we now need to take it into much more advanced models, and ultimately into patient trials (assuming that it survives all of those hurdles in the first instance). If it does work it could be great, but there is a long way to go, and so we need to be cautiously optimistic about these exciting data.

I think the important discovery from this work is the concept that it would be possible to combine an existing rheumatoid arthritis drug with a novel targeted therapy that inhibits this protein BRAF, which is mutated in about half of human melanomas.

It really starts to point towards the idea of personalised medicine, where we give patients drugs that will work in their cancer, rather than giving them drugs because they happen to have a particular type of cancer. And in the future we will see a lot more of this, and we’ll see improvements in cancer treatment coming through stepwise advances such as this, where we learn how to much more cleverly use the drugs that we are developing.”