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GEN News Highlights : Sep 20, 2006

Experimental Agent Against Advanced Metastatic Melanoma Doubles Survival Rate

Synta Pharmaceuticals' STA-4783 induces tumor cells to produce a heat shock protein on its surface, flagging them for destruction.
A new molecule designed to battle advanced metastatic melanoma doubles the progression-free survival rate of cancer patients, compared with those receiving a conventional treatment, according to Steven O’Day, M.D., chief of research and director of the melanoma program at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute.

Synta Pharmaceuticals developed STA-4783 and funded the study. The drug induces tumor cells to produce a heat shock protein on the cell surface, which flags them for destruction by the patient’s own immune system.

The double-blind, randomized Phase IIb trial of the anticancer agent STA-4783 involved 81 stage IV melanoma patients at 21 medical centers across the U.S. Results show that patients receiving STA-4783 plus paclitaxel had a median progression-free survival rate of 112 days, compared with 56 days for those receiving paclitaxel alone.