Researchers Develop New Drug That Has Potential to Stop Melanoma in its Tracks
Researchers from Michigan State University have developed a potentially life-saving drug meant to fight against the spread of melanoma.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and this drug can prevent its spreading by up to 90%.
As of right now, the drug does not have a name and is at least two years away from entering clinical trials. But the discovery is groundbreaking considering the medicine’s unique ability to stop melanoma in its tracks. The man-made medication is composed of a small molecule compound that prevents a gene’s ability to produce RNA molecules, which are found in many melanoma tumors.
Not only will this drug be beneficial for those with skin cancer, researchers believe it can also help treat breast cancer. The medication is meant to target a specific pathway that is present in both melanoma and breast cancer cells.
“What we showed is we can very dramatically reduce the metastasis (the spread of cancer),” professor Richard Neubig, author of the study explained to Detroit News. “We think the potential is tremendous and are excited about the possibilities.”
According to the American Cancer Society, there are many different forms of skin cancer, but melanoma is the most likely to grow, spread, and become fatal. If the tumor or growth is caught early, the chance of death is only 2%. However, once it spreads and metastasizes, the risk of death rises to 84%.
Researchers began their study about 10 years ago, after noticing skin cancer was on the rise. They screened 2,000 compounds in order to try to find a compound that could block signal pathways in melanoma, as current drugs on the market are unable to block that deadly pathway known as Rho MRTF. After growing cells in a Petri dish, they found this specific compound was able to stop the movement of melanoma cells by 85-90%.
The study was published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. For the next step, Neubig explains that the team will now go on to study which patients will benefit most from this treatment, as some cancer patients don’t have this crucial signaling pathway turned on in their genome.
The development of this drug just goes to show that overall, skin care is changing, hopefully with risks such as skin cancer in mind. By 2012, the global market for skin care is expected to be valued at about 154 billion U.S. dollars.