Science

Melanoma Treatment: New Drug Could Stop Spread Disease By 90%

By Anne Dominguez , Jan 05, 2017 10:26 AM EST
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NEW YORK - MAY 3: A doctor from the American Academy of Dermatology checks a patient for signs of skin cancer May 3, 2004 at Bryant Park in New York City. The American Academy of Dermatology offered free skin cancer screenings at the day long clinic and gave advice on how to protect your skin from the sun. More than one million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year which will kill an estimated 10,250 people. (Photo : Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Researchers at the Michigan State University found a new drug for melanoma treatment. The potential new drug known as CCG-203971 is mad up of small-molecule chemical compound which can reduce the spread of melanoma cells by up to 90 percent.

Melanoma is currently in of the most common cancer in young women. There are at least 76,000 new of melanoma in the United States in 2016 and 10,000 of those were expected to die of the disease last year but the numbers are still on the rise. Melanoma is also the deadliest form of skin cancer. It spreads through the body very quickly, attacking distant organs like the brain and lungs.

The man-made chemical compound used in the melanoma treatment is effective in stopping a gene activity to produce some proteins and RNA molecules in melanoma tumors. This certain gene activity is responsible for the spread of melanoma cells but the compound can shut it down.

"It's been a challenge developing small-molecule drugs that can block this gene activity that works as a signaling mechanism known to be important in melanoma progression," Richard Neubig, a pharmacology professor and researcher said in a press release from Michigan State University. He added that this chemical compound is also the same one they have been using to treat scleroderma.

Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune disease characterized by the hardening of skin tissue, and in worse scenarios even internal organs such as the lungs, heart and kidneys. Researchers found out that the same mechanism responsible for the thickening of the skin in scleroderma largely contributes to the spread of skin cancer.

In a study published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, the researchers used the compound to mice injected with human melanoma cells. The results revealed that up to 90 percent of the cells were prevented from metastasizing.

"The majority of people die from melanoma because of the disease spreading," Neubig said. He added that the new melanoma treatment can stop cancer migration and increase the potential of patient survival.

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