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Better approach to treating deadly melanoma identified by scientists
Date:12/19/2012

kinase protein) is present in all cells but cancer cells have overactive MEK. This means the drug must be used in small doses and for a lengthy period to avoid harming healthy cells. By reducing SMURF2 to increase the drug's effectiveness smaller doses could be given over a shorter time period, reducing the level of toxicity in healthy cells.

Dr Wellbrock says: "If we can reduce the toxicity to all cells it will mean cancer treatments are less harmful to patients. It's vital that we improve the treatments for melanoma which is the fifth most common cancer in the UK. By the time many people are diagnosed with melanoma the cancer has already started to spread and advanced tumours can be highly resistant to conventional cancer treatments. The development of resistance to new drugs has also been a major drawback. If we can identify more potent and less toxic drug combinations to tackle melanoma then we could save thousands of lives."

This study was funded in part by Cancer Research UK and the results have been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Talking about the research Dr Julie Sharp from the charity said: "Recently there have been some really exciting developments in treating melanoma but new approaches that tackle the problem of resistance are still needed. This type of research will be a key focus of the planned new Manchester Cancer Research Centre which will bring together a wide range of research expertise to revolutionise cancer treatment."

The next step for Dr Wellbrock will be to find a drug that can reduce the activity of SMURF2 in cancer cells. The Manchester research team are now screening drug libraries for an existing drug that may already be approved for use for a different illness.

It's hoped that identifying a drug to use in combination with MEK inhibitors will provide a much more powerful and ultimately more successful approach to treating melanoma.


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Contact: Morwenna Grills
Morwenna.Grills@manchester.ac.uk
44-161-275-2111
University of Manchester
Source:Eurekalert

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