Melanoma Brain Metastases in the Era of Target Therapies: An Overview

Paolo Becco, Susanna Gallo, Stefano Poletto, Mirko Pio Manlio Frascione, Luca Crotto, Alessandro Zaccagna, Luca Paruzzo, Daniela Caravelli, Fabrizio Carnevale-Schianca, Massimo Aglietta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Malignant melanoma is the third most common type of tumor that causes brain metastases. Patients with cerebral involvement have a dismal prognosis and their treatment is an unmet medical need. Brain involvement is a multistep process involving several signaling pathways such as Janus kinase/signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (JAK/STAT), Phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Protein Kinase B (PI3K/AKT), Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and Phosphatase and Tensin Homolog (PTEN). Recently therapy that targets the MAPK signaling (BRAF/MEK inhibitors) and immunotherapy (anti-CTLA4 and anti-PD1 agents) have changed the therapeutic approaches to stage IV melanoma. In contrast, there are no solid data about patients with brain metastases, who are usually excluded from clinical trials. Retrospective data showed that BRAF-inhibitors, alone or in combination with MEK-inhibitors have interesting clinical activity in this setting. Prospective data about the combinations of BRAF/MEK inhibitors have been recently published, showing an improved overall response rate. Short intracranial disease control is still a challenge. Several attempts have been made in order to improve it with combinations between local and systemic therapies. Immunotherapy approaches seem to retain promising activity in the treatment of melanoma brain metastasis as showed by the results of clinical trials investigating the combination of anti-CTL4 (Ipilimumab) and anti-PD1(Nivolumab). Studies about the combination or the sequential approach of target therapy and immunotherapy are ongoing, with immature results. Several clinical trials are ongoing trying to explore new approaches in order to overcome tumor resistance. At this moment the correct therapeutic choices for melanoma with intracranial involvement is still a challenge and new strategies are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 21 2020


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