Melanoma is one of the most resistant cancers to treatment. Not even the promising immunotherapy, which has revolutionized the approach to most tumors by offering improvements in survival and in the quality of patients that, five years ago, could not have been imagined, currently offers few results for the most advanced stages of the disease. skin cancer. That is why the case of Charles Hanna, a 77-year-old Australian seriously ill with advanced melanoma, is one of those who will be remembered in the history of modern medicine. Hanna had exhausted all treatments. He had undergone major surgery, after his cancer had spread to the brain and other organs in his body, and the immunotherapy was not working.
The doctors of the Kinghorn Cancer Center , where they were treating him, they decided to submit him to molecular tests, which revealed that he had a genetic mutation called PALB2, part of the family of mutations related to breast and ovarian cancers. After that result, they decided to try treating him with an approved drug for these diseases (Lynparza®), and they obtained a surprising result. “The tumors in the upper abdomen disappeared, and they have been that way for at least six months. The drug takes advantage of a weakness in the tumor’s DNA, blocking the cancer’s ability to repair any damage, “said Anthony Joshua, one of the doctors who treated him. “To our knowledge, Charles is one of the first five people in the world to respond in this way to treatment with a drug indicated for other tumors.”
The milestone has led the Melanoma Institute of Australia to initiate a clinical trial with this drug to test its efficacy in advanced melanoma.