Researchers at the Royal Marsden NHS Trust have developed a drug that will revolutionize the treatment of a deadly form of skin cancer. Testing a drug called RG7204 on 700 patients showed that in 80% of the subjects, the treatment led to a significant reduction in tumor size, according to the Daily Mail.

Half of the cases of melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, are due to genetic defects. These abnormalities in DNA cause cancer cells to grow and spread throughout the body. The RG7204 drug finds and blocks the mutated BRAF gene, thereby helping to shrink the tumor. Pharmaceutical company Roche will soon apply for licensing the RG7204 in the US and Europe.

Melanoma is one of the most common and dangerous forms of skin cancer. Every year, this disease claims the lives of 37,000 people worldwide, and many of them die due to untimely access to a specialist. However, up to 90% of tragedies can be avoided if cancer is detected at an early stage. In May 2010, scientists from the University of Nottingham (Nottingham University) presented a vaccine that stops the development and even cures melanoma. The drug contains DNA and fragments of a cancerous tumor that only activate specific immune cells that target melanoma exclusively. Patient trials of the new vaccine are taking place at clinics in Manchester, Nottingham and Newcastle. If the testing is successful, the commercial use of the vaccine will begin within the next ten years. The researchers also hope the drug could be adapted to fight other types of cancer.