As well, the compound appeared to limit the growth of skin tumors that had formed prior to the treatment's application.
In both cases, the observed success was attributed to the compound's ability to jumpstart proper p53 function, the researchers said.
Athar pointed out that p53 mutations linked to skin cancer are also present in more than half of all tumor types, so the current work could theoretically lead to cancer prevention applications for a range of diseases beyond melanoma.
"We tested UVB-signature mutations, but every cancer-causing agent that interacts with p53 has its own form of mutation," he noted. "So, we need to see if different types of cancers can be attenuated with this type of compound."
"We are also planning to conduct more studies in mice to see if the compound we used has any toxicity, although we did not find that to be the case so far," he said. "So, we are planning long-term studies with mice. Once that is complete, we will certainly go for clinical trials with humans."
In the interim, Dr. Robin Ashinoff , the medical director of dermatologic, mohs and laser surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J., said that the current findings should be viewed with a mix of interest and caution.
"This still needs to be studied in human trials in a placebo-controlled fashion," she noted. "And bringing this kind of technology to market is always a long road."
"But if we can work at the genetic level to try and prevent skin cancer where it starts and correct and suppress the abnormal clones that arise from UVB exposure, that would certainly be quite advantageous," she added. "And it would be wonderful to be able to put this approach into a creme or a sunblock. That -- when it happens -- will certainly become the new gold standard."
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