Bristol-Myers, Roche Partner on Melanoma Cure

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) and Switzerlands Roche are teaming up to develop a treatment for melanoma using a combination of their respective cancer drugs.

In the collaboration agreement, the two will evaluate the utility of Bristol-Myers yervoy in combination with Roches investigational oral drug vemurafenib in treating patients with a certain type of metastatic melanoma.

Metastatic melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, Brian Daniels, senior vice president of development and medical affairs at Bristol-Myers Squibb, said in a statement on Thursday.

The companies said the agreement marks an important cross-company collaboration exploring the potential roles of this regimen in the treatment of the cancer.

The pharmaceutical giants will conduct early and mid-stage studies to evaluate to combos safety and efficacy. Depending on the outcome, they may conduct further development of the combined drug.

Yervoy won U.S. approval in March as a treatment for patients with inoperable or metastatic melanoma. Roche, meanwhile, recently submitted its U.S. and European application seeking approval for vemurafenib.

Vemurafenib is designed to selectively target and inhibit a mutated form of the BRAF protein found in about half of all cases of melanoma.