London: A new pill to fight the deadliest form of skin cancer is being developed by scientists.
They have already found in tests that the drug RG7204 reduced tumour size in 80 percent of the cases.
The breakthrough, facilitated by the full decoding of human DNA, pinpointed a genetic flaw in about half of cases of malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer.
The flaw drives the cancer cells to grow and spread, but RG7204 seeks out and blocks the mutated gene, called BRAF, causing tumours to shrink, the Daily Mail reports.
Scientists at the Royal Marsden NHS Trust in London believe the drug will have a dramatic effect on treatment for those patients whose cancer has the BRAF mutation.
Lead researcher James Larkin said: "This is an incredibly exciting breakthrough. With a growing incidence of melanoma in younger people, the results of this trial are very encouraging."
Interim results from a trial of 700 patients at the Marsden and other international centres have not yet been released, but earlier reports suggested patients in late stages of the disease using the drug might enjoy up to seven extra months of life.
Skin cancer is the second most common cancer in 15 to 34-year-olds, affecting twice as many women as men.