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Vegetable-based drug could inhibit melanoma
Date:2/28/2009

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"We found that the selenium-enhanced compounds significantly reduced the production of Akt3 protein and shut down its signaling network," explained Robertson, who is also associate director of translational research and leader of the experimental therapeutics program at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute. The modified compounds also reduced the growth of tumors by 60 percent, compared to the vegetable-based compounds alone.

When the researchers exposed three different human melanoma cell lines to the two compounds, the selenium-enhanced drug worked better on some cell lines than others. The efficiency was from 30 to 70 percent depending on the cell line.

The exact mechanism of how selenium inhibits cancer remains unclear. However Robertson, who has a filed provisional patent on the discovery, is convinced that the use of naturally occurring compounds that target cancer-causing proteins could lead to more effective ways of treating melanoma.

"We have harnessed something found in nature to target melanoma," said Robertson. "And since we only need tiny amounts to kill the cancer cells, it means even less toxic side-effects for the patient."

Human trials of the new drug are still some years away, but the Penn State researcher envisions a drug that could be delivered either intravenously to treat melanoma, or added to sunscreen lotion to prevent the disease.


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Contact: Amitabh Avasthi
axa47@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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