8 September 2016
An experimental cancer drug has shown potential to combat melanoma and other forms of cancer by working in a different way than was expected.
The drug pevonedistat is already being tested in human subjects, but it was not previously known how exactly it is able to kill cancer cells, as it shuts down many different cellular proteins.
However, researchers from the University of Virginia have now discovered that the critical protein blocked by pevonedistat is one produced by the gene CDT2 that is vital for malignant cancer cells to survive. Without this protein, cells stop replicating and fall apart.
Even though this was not the intended target of the drug, it could be extremely useful, as excessive amounts of this protein are produced in melanoma cells, and it is known that patients with high levels are less likely to survive.
As such, melanoma cells are very susceptible to the drug, as are other CDT2-dependent cancers of the brain, breast and liver.
Dr Tarek Abbas of the department of radiation oncology and the University of Virginia Cancer Center said: "We have great hope that this drug will have very significant impact on melanoma in general. In fact, the drug is very effective on all melanomas, including those for which an effective therapeutic is lacking."
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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