The trial of new skin cancer drug, BAL3833/CCT3833, has commenced at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in the UK.

The first patient has been treated with a new panRAF inhibitor, which is a new type of drug under development to solve the problem of drug resistance in advanced skin cancer and multiple other cancer types.

PanRAF inhibitors are said to block several key cancer-causing proteins at once including BRAF, which are responsible for about half of all melanomas.

Other patients in the trial will be treated at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.

The researchers will enrol around 25 patients with advanced and solid tumours in the trial, focusing on establishing the safe maximum dose for a planned phase II clinical trial.

A new consortium was established in the last month to develop new drug class that is potentially able to treat melanomas. The agreement has been signed between academic organisations, funders and Swiss-based biopharmaceutical company Basilea Pharmaceutica International.

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The consortium, which includes The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), the Wellcome Trust Cancer Research Technology (CRT) and the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute The University of Manchester, has provided Basilea exclusive worldwide rights to develop, manufacture and commercialise a series of new panRAF inhibitors.

Basilea will take the full operational responsibility for the research programme after the Phase I trial, and is also involved in the biomarker research along with the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute.

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust consultant medical oncologist and clinical trial leader Dr James Larkin said: "The major problem with current targeted therapies is resistance to treatment. This drug has been developed in the laboratory specifically to tackle this problem and we are very excited to be treating the first patient in this clinical trial."

Image: The skin cancer drug trial will recruit around 25 patients. Photo: courtesy of The University of Manchester.