Two treatments for the deadliest form of skin cancer have been proven to give patients a longer survival period than chemotherapy.

Results of a Phase III study showed that an experimental pill called vemurafenib, developed by Roche and Daiichi Sankyo, reduced the risk of death by 63% compared with chemotherapy.

The drug, tested on 675 mutation-positive metastatic melanoma patients, also reduced the risk of the disease getting worse by 74% compared with current treatments.

The results were presented at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, US.

Another drug, taken intravenously, also extended the lives of previously untreated patients with advanced melanoma, according to a separate study.

Patients taking Bristol-Myers Squibb‘s yervoy (ipilimumab) plus chemotherapy lived an average of two months longer than people who were treated with chemotherapy alone, reports Reuters.

Yervoy works by spurring the immune system to fight off the cancer, while vemurafenib is designed to specifically inhibit the activity of the mutant BRAF protein that is found in approximately half of all cases of melanoma.

Head of Roche Molecular Systems Paul Brown said, “The joint development of the investigational cobas BRAF test and vemurafenib exemplifies how our personalised healthcare approach is one step closer to becoming a reality for patients.

“In BRIM3 our investigational test enabled rapid and accurate identification of eligible patients with metastatic melanoma,” Brown added.