Melanoma is one of the deadliest and most feared forms of skin cancer. But a group of scientists is hopeful that they have just developed what will turn out to be the most effective drug in combating the disease. They believe that their most recent breakthrough will pave the way for more effective drugs to be developed and help in fighting back the spread of cancer cells.
The Michigan State University scientists have managed to develop small molecule drug compound that blocks the ability of one’s genes in helping cancer to spread. Its effectiveness is based on the capability of halting gene activity – an action dubbed transcription.
Richard Neubig, who was a lead co-author in the study and also a pharmacology professor, said in a Michigan State University press release that developing small molecule drugs was a huge challenge. He explained that it can block this gene activity that works as a signaling mechanism known to be important in melanoma progression.”
The CCG-203971 compound
This is a study that was published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, and highlighted the CCG-203971 compound – same as the one they have worked on in the treatment of scleroderma.
Neubig said that the chemical compound they used is similar to the one they have been “working on to potentially treat the disease scleroderma.” He said that their study ended up with the conclusion that it works well on the given type of cancer.
Scleroderma is a potentially-fatal autoimmune disease which causes the skin tissue to harden. There are times the case becomes severe causing the kidneys, heart and lungs skin to harden as well. A similar technique responsible for skin thickening and has a role in cancer spreading.
How the study was done
In order to carry out this study, the experts injected immuno-compromised mice with human melanoma cells. The study mice were then exposed to the compound that inhibits the ability of the genes to generate RNA molecules as well as melanoma tumor proteins.
The compound was found effective in preventing these genes that can trigger the spread of cancer.
Melanoma Research Foundation explains that melanoma doesn’t spring up abruptly. Rather, it is a gradual process that starts with melanocytes (cells responsible for production of skin, hair and eye color pigment called melanin).
Considering that melanocytes eventually grow to moles, the presence of one raises someone’s risk of melanoma.
Past studies point out that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from both natural sources, like sunlight, and artificial sources like tanning beds increases the melanoma cases by 90 percent.
The most common type of cancer
The American Cancer Society recently released a report in which they said that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. As much as melanoma contributes only 1% of all skin cancers, it ranks as one of the most deadly. A 2016 United States study suggested that 76, 380 cases would be diagnosed and over 10,000 patients would die as a result of the aggressive type of cancer.
Source: Molecular Cancer Therapeutics