BMS, Roche join forces and drugs on combo melanoma program

If you want to attack an aggressive killer like metastatic melanoma, it's best to target it from as many angles as possible. That's the approach that Roche is taking with its promising late-stage treatment vemurafenib (PLX4032 from Plexxikon) as it combines that drug with Bristol-Myers Squibb's newly approved drug Yervoy, which may be better known as ipilimumab.

As Sally Church notes on her Pharma Strategy Blog, vemurafenib has already produced some exciting data on metastatic melanoma by targeting the BRAF V600E mutation. Ipilimumab, meanwhile, targets the CTLA-4 antigen and has already been approved for sale. Now investigators will match the two in a Phase I/II study. And if the two show signs of working better together, they can leap into a late-stage program.

"Metastatic melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer," said Brian Daniels, senior vice president, development and medical affairs, Bristol-Myers Squibb. "We are excited to be working with Roche to evaluate the potential that together YERVOY and vemurafenib could improve outcomes for melanoma patients."

In the meantime, both companies are planning to showcase their treatments at ASCO.

- here's the release
- see the report from Pharma Strategy