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Petra Rietschel, MD: Cancer Treatment Combinations May Stave Off Progression of the Disease


GlaxoSmithKline is experimenting with a new combination of cancer medications; Petra Rietschel, MD encourages such exploration.

White Plains, New York (PRWEB) October 24, 2012

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that GlaxoSmithKline Plc has combined two medications designed to treat melanoma in an effort to slow the growth of the cancer. According to the article, a study has found that this combination has succeeded in limiting the progression of the disease more successfully than a single-drug therapy. Petra Rietschel, MD, who specializes in the treatment of melanoma, sarcoma, and breast cancer, encourages such experimental efforts. She asserts that combining pharmaceuticals may allow patients and their doctors to fight cancer more effectively.

The article explains: "Patients taking Glaxo's dabrafenib and trametinib together delayed tumors from progressing for 9.4 months, compared with 5.8 months for patients taking dabrafenib alone, according to the study of 162 patients. The trial was part of the second of three phases of human testing usually required by regulators."

The article goes on to note that dabrafenib is effective because it blocks BRAF. BRAF, it explains, is the gene that sparks the growth of cancerous cells because of a mutation. This is the gene that initiates cancer in roughly 50 percent of individuals who have melanoma. Trametinib adds to the fight against BRAF by targeting MEK. MEK is a protein that protects BRAF. When working together, the two drugs essentially fight both the cause of the tumor and its protective protein.

In addition to more effectively fighting cancerous cells, the combination of MEK and BRAF may minimize the side effects that patients experience. The article notes: "Adding the MEK drug may reduce a signature side effect of BRAF drugs like Zelboraf—the development of non-melanoma skin cancer—while possibly boosting efficacy,” according to Jeffrey Weber, a study leader and oncologist at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida.

Dr. Rietschel believes that the right combination of drugs may improve the treatment options available to cancer patients. As such, she encourages the development of such therapies.

"While targeted agents like BRAF inhibitors have revolutionized the treatment of patients with metastatic melanoma, the responses are not durable, the tumors eventually develop an escape mechanism," explains Petra Rietschel, MD. "Combining targeted agents and blocking several pathways simultaneously will delay the resistance."

Dr. Rietschel believes that today's researchers have many hurdles before them, as cancer has become an increasingly common condition; however, she is confident that the medical professionals involved in the research and development of new treatments, such as the one detailed in the article, are capable of utilizing new technology and medical knowledge to better fight cancer and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes.


Petra Rietschel, MD holds her MD and PhD from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Currently, Petra Rietschel, MD is involved in several programs spanning multiple medical centers, including Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center. Petra Rietschel, MD specializes in melanoma, breast cancer, and sarcoma.

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