A trial looking at dabrafenib and trametinib for advanced melanoma

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Skin cancer




Phase 3

This trial is looking at 2 new drugs called dabrafenib and trametinib for advanced melanoma. It is for people whose melanoma cells have a change in a gene called BRAF.

The BRAF gene affects how cells divide and grow. In some people the gene is changed or damaged. This is called a gene mutation Open a glossary item. About half of all people with melanoma have a BRAF gene mutation in their cancer cells. Dabrafenib is a type of BRAF inhibitor.

If the BRAF gene is faulty, it affects a protein called mitogen activated protein kinase (MEK). MEK is also involved in cell division, and can make cancer cells keep dividing out of control. Trametinib is a type of MEK inhibitor.

We know from research that both of these drugs may be used to treat melanoma with the BRAF mutation. We also know from research that together these 2 drugs may be better.

The researchers want to compare dabrafenib only with dabrafenib and trametinib to find out which is better to treat advanced melanoma with the BRAF mutation.

This trial has now finished recruiting people, but there are details of a related trial comparing the combination of dabrafenib and trametinib with another drug called vemurafenib elsewhere on the database.

Who can enter

You may be able to enter this trial if you

  • Have melanoma that has spread to nearby lymph nodes and can’t be removed with surgery (stage 3C) or has spread to another part of your body (stage 4)
  • Have melanoma with a BRAF gene mutation – the trial team will test for this
  • Have melanoma that can be measured on your skin or on a scan
  • Have satisfactory blood test results
  • Are well enough to carry out all your normal activities, apart from heavy physical work (performance status of 0 or 1)
  • Are willing to use reliable contraception during treatment and for up to 4 months afterwards if there is any chance that you or your partner could become pregnant
  • Are at least 18 years old

You cannot enter this trial if you

  • Have melanoma that has spread to your brain – you may be able to join if you have had surgery to remove the melanoma or scans show that it has been stable for the past 3 months, you have no symptoms and have not needed steroids or a particular type of medicine to prevent fits (seizures) in the past month
  • Have already had a BRAF inhibitor or MEK inhibitor
  • Have already had treatment for your advanced melanoma
  • Have had major surgery or extensive radiotherapy in the past 3 weeks
  • Have had any other cancer apart from non melanoma skin cancer that has been removed with surgery or another cancer that has been successfully treated and there has been no sign of it in the past 3 years
  • Have had a heart attack in the past 6 months or any other serious heart problem or have a pacemaker
  • Are HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C positive
  • Have had an experimental drug as part of another clinical trial in the past month
  • Have any other medical condition that could affect you taking part in this trial
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

Trial design

This is an international phase 3 trial. It will recruit 340 people from different countries around the world. This is a randomised trial. The people taking part are put into treatment groups by a computer. Neither you nor your doctor will be able to decide which group you are in. And neither of you will know which group you are in either. This is called a double blind trial.

People in group 1 have dabrafenib and trametinib. People in group 2 have dabrafenib and a dummy drug (placebo).

Dabrafenib and trametinib for advanced melanoma trial diagram

Dabrafenib is a capsule. You take 4 capsules daily with a glass of water. Trametinib and the dummy drug are tablets. You take 3 tablets daily with a glass of water. You continue treatment as long as it is helping you and the side effects are not too bad.

The trial team will ask you to fill out a questionnaire before you start treatment and then every 2 months for a year, every 3 months until treatment stops and then 5 weeks after your treatment ends. The questionnaire will ask about side effects and how you’ve been feeling. This is called a quality of life study.

If you agree to take part in this study, the researchers will ask for some extra samples of tissue. If you don’t want to give these tissue samples, you don’t have to. You can still take part in the trial.

Hospital visits

You see the doctor to have some tests before taking part in this trial. These tests include

  • A physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • CT scan or MRI scan
  • Heart scan (ECHO Open a glossary item)
  • Heart trace (ECG Open a glossary item)
  • Eye test

During treatment you see the doctor every 4 weeks.

After treatment your doctor will tell you how often they want to see you. A member of the trial team will contact you every 3 months to see how you are.

Side effects

Dabrafenib and trametinib are new drugs and there may be side effects we don’t know about yet. The most common side effects reported include

Your doctor will talk to you about other possible side effects before you agree to take part in the trial.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Paul Nathan

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

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