While efforts to reduce melanoma rates and raise awareness have been a priority in many countries for the past few years, research has found that this deadly form of skin cancer is actually still on the rise in the United States. Even worse, the actual death rate associated with melanoma has risen, making it clear that Americans have some serious reevaluating to do when it comes to sun protection.
However, recent findings have revealed a new that drug can stop up to 90 percent of melanoma cells from developing within the body—a major breakthrough considering that melanoma cells spread rather quickly to distant organs like the lungs or brain even after the tumors have been removed, giving the disease a more fatal edge.
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In the study, published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, scientists injected mice with human melanoma cells before exposing them to a small-molecule drug that focuses on a gene’s ability to produce RNA molecules (one of the molecular structural components of life) and the proteins that are usually found in melanoma tumors. The gene targeted is known to cause the disease to spread, but after being exposed to the compound, up to 90 percent of the cells were stopped from spreading.
“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,” says Richard Neubig, a pharmacology professor and co-author of the study, in an interview with Fox News. Translation? This compound can actually stop these proteins from sending signals to the body telling it to aggressively spread the cells.
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Even better, Neubig tells Yahoo Beauty that if these cancerous melanoma cells can be reduced by 90 percent, there’s a possibility that the immune system will kick in and finish off the rest of the 10 percent of cancerous cells remaining.
While research is still ongoing, Neubig believes that clinical trials will begin within the next two to four years.
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