Encorafenib (Braftovi™) + Binimetinib (Mektovi®)
Cancer researchers are developing new ways to treat advanced melanoma with greater success for patients. Targeted therapy is a new, effective treatment option that can shrink cancer cells and tumors and help patients with melanoma live longer.
Encorafenib (Braftovi) and binimetinib (Mektovi) are a combination therapy that blocks the activity of different molecules within cancer cells that cause the cancer to grow and spread. This combination of targeted therapies treats advanced melanoma more effectively than the single drugs while producing less serious side effects.
What Are Encorafenib (Braftovi) + Binimetinib (Mektovi)?
Encorafenib is a BRAF (pronounced bee-raff) inhibitor, and binimetinib is a MEK (pronounced meck) inhibitor. Each medication:
- Is a type of targeted therapy known as signal transduction inhibitor
- Helps slow or stop the growth and spread of melanoma cells
How Do Encorafenib and Binimetinib Work Together?
Encorafenib blocks the activity of a mutated form of a molecule called BRAF. Binimetinib blocks the activity of a molecule called MEK. BRAF and MEK are protein molecules that are important in regulating cell growth.
The BRAF V600E and V600K mutations signal cells to grow abnormally and divide out of control. These cells can become a melanoma tumor. About half of all melanomas have a BRAF mutation.
MEK receives signals from BRAF and other molecules in the cell. In melanoma treatment, researchers have found that blocking BRAF and MEK at the same time is more effective than blocking BRAF alone.
The combination of encorafenib and binimetinib interferes with abnormal BRAF signals to slow or stop the out-of-control cell growth:
- Encorafenib blocks the signaling pathway of the V600E-mutated BRAF molecule.
- Binimetinib blocks signaling from the V600E- or V600K-mutated BRAF molecule via the MEK molecule.
Which Patients May Benefit from Encorafenib and Binimetinib?
In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of encorafenib in combination with binimetinib to treat patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma with a BRAFV600E or BRAFV600K mutation.
- Stage III that is unresectable (unable to be completely removed by surgery)
- Stage IV, also known as metastatic (melanoma cells that have spread to organs and other parts of the body)
This combination therapy works only in patients whose melanoma has tested positive for the BRAF V600E or V600K mutation. If you have advanced melanoma, your physician will test you for specific genetic mutations before prescribing this medication combination. The physician will send a biopsy (sample of cancer tissue from your body) to a special lab for analysis.
How Are Encorafenib and Binimetinib Given?
Patients take both medications orally (swallowing by mouth).
- The recommended dose for encorafenib is 450 mg daily.
- The recommended dose for binimetinib is 45 mg twice per day.
- Depending on how you respond to treatment, your physician may adjust your doses.
- Patients usually continue to take these medications for a period of time, until their melanoma worsens or they experience unacceptable side effects.
What Are the Goals of Encorafenib and Binimetinib?
The combination of encorafenib and binimetinib targets specific molecules that regulate cancer cell growth, with the goals of:
- Slowing the growth or spread of melanoma
- Shrinking melanoma tumors
- Helping patients live longer
The FDA approval for encorafenib plus binimetinib in melanoma is based on results from the Phase 3 COLUMBUS study. In the study, encorafenib plus binimetinib was compared to vemurafenib or single agent encorafenib in advanced BRAF-mutant melanoma. In data presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in June, the combination demonstrated overall survival (OS) of 33.6 months and progression-free survival (PFS) 14.9 months. In comparison, monotherapy with a BRAF inhibitor (vemurafenib) delivered an average OS of 16.9 months and a PFS of 7.3 months. The combination was well-tolerated by the majority of patients, with only 5% discontinuing treatment due to side effects.
Melanoma treatments, like encorafenib and binimetinib, have side effects, which can sometimes be serious. Patients should talk with their physician to learn more about the side effects of these and other melanoma treatment options.
What Should I Ask My Doctor About Encorafenib and Binimetinib?
Because everyone is different, not all treatments work for all patients with melanoma. If you are interested in learning more about the combination of encorafenib and binimetinib, here are some questions you should ask your physician:
- Will my melanoma tumor be tested for BRAF genetic mutations?
- Am I eligible for encorafenib and binimetinib?
- What is your experience with encorafenib and binimetinib?
- Is this combination therapy a good option for my melanoma treatment?
- Are there alternatives to encorafenib and binimetinib for me?
- How successful has the combination been for patients like me?
- What are the side effects of this combination?
- How do these side effects compare to my other options?
- Are there any clinical trials for the combination therapy that I should consider?
- What other treatments are FDA-approved for treating advanced melanoma?
- What are the risks and benefits of the available treatment options?
- What are the goals for my treatment?
- How long will I stay on this treatment?
Need Help Paying for Encorafenib + Binimetinib?
Patient Assistant Programs (PAPs) are designed so that you still have access to the treatments you need, in any financial circumstance. Learn more about the manufacturer’s patient assistance program and other options here.
Latest Treatments for Advanced Melanoma
Learn more about the latest, most effective treatments for patients who have advanced melanoma:
- Other types of combination therapy, including:
- Atezolizumab (Tecentriq) + Vemurafenib (Zelboraf) & Cobimetinib (Cotellic)
- Dabrafenib (Tafinlar) + Trametinib (Mekinist)
- Vemurafenib (Zelboraf) + Cobimetinib (Cotellic)
- Targeted therapy
- Adjuvant therapy
The Melanoma Research Alliance is the largest, non-profit funder of melanoma research worldwide. Since 2007, we have directly funded over $131 million in innovative grants to improve prevention, detection, and treatment of melanoma. We have also leveraged an additional $415 million in outside funds for research. Learn more about our funded research.
Last updated: August, 2021