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Researchers help in search for new ways to image, therapeutically target melanoma
Date:11/3/2011

TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 3, 2011) Because the incidence of malignant melanoma is rising faster than any other cancer in the U.S., researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., and colleagues at Tampa-based Intezyne Technologies, Inc., Western Carolina University and the University of Arizona are working overtime to develop new technologies to aid in both malignant melanoma diagnosis and therapy. A tool of great promise comes from the world of nanomedicine where tiny drug delivery systems are measured in the billionths of meters and are being designed to deliver targeted therapies.

Which therapies are appropriate to be loaded into nano-sized vehicles to attach to the right receptors for targeting purposes is an issue.

"Melanoma progression is associated with altered expression of cell surface proteins, including adhesion proteins and receptors," said study co-author David L. Morse, Ph.D., whose work at Moffitt includes experimental therapeutics and diagnostic imaging. "Eighty percent of malignant melanomas express high levels of the MC1R receptor, one of a family of five receptors."

Their study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, tested the family of receptors, including MC1R, to find out which receptors would respond best when the right ligand was loaded into a nano-sized spherical delivery device resembling a Koosh Ball called a "micelle."

According to study co-author Robert J. Gillies, Ph.D., director of Molecular and Functional Imaging and vice chair of Radiology Research at Moffitt, MC1R has been in the past investigated as a target for selective imaging and for potential therapeutic agents and is known to play a role in skin pigmentation and hair color. The search for the right "ligand" (a substance that forms a complex with a biomolecule) for use in targeting the right receptor, is ongoing.

"The development of ligands that can be attached to micelles and/or nanoparticles
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Contact: Ferdie De Vega
Ferdinand.DeVega@moffitt.org
813-745-7858
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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