Secret to Melanoma Cancers Resistance to Treatment Exposed - Hope for Seniors
Researchers say they have found why treatment is difficult and may have answer for
turning this around
July 23, 2012 -Melanoma skin cancer is one the most aggressive of all cancers and its favorite
victims are senior citizens. Not only does it progress rapidly but successful treatment is difficult because it is usually resistant to
conventional chemotherapy treatment. Researchers reporting on a new study say they may have a found a new way to treat this cancer more
The Flanders Institute for Biotechnology team,
led by Agnieszka Gembarska and Chris Marine, say their discovery combats the interaction between the protein MDM4 and the tumor suppressor
It offers a new idea for the development of
medication and confirms that combination therapies including those using the recently developed BRAF inhibitors hold the promise of
further improvement of the clinical response to a treatment for melanoma.
This study was published in the journal
Nature Medicine and the authors expect it to be followed with interest by the pharmaceutical industry.
"Our results are important on two levels. From
a scientific perspective, it is very important that we have been able to prove that p53 plays a key role in the formation of melanomas," says
However, this research also offers
perspectives for optimizing the existing treatment strategies for melanomas. The current treatment with BRAF inhibitors has positive effects
on nearly 80% of the patients, but many of them relapse after a few months. We may have discovered a way of preventing this relapse".
p53, MDM4 and the formation of cancer
Marine and his team has a long standing
interest in p53 - a master tumor suppressor protein (in other words a protein that counteract the formation of cancer).
Mutations in the p53 gene are very common in
many various types of cancer. Surprisingly, mutations in p53 are (almost) never seen in melanomas. Scientists suspected that melanomas had
found an alternative way of bypassing the action of p53.
The protein MDM4 has a negative effect on the
action of p53 and has been the scientific focus of the VIB investigators for many years.
This study has now demonstrated that (65% of)
melanomas contain much higher concentrations of the MDM4 protein than normal cells.
The scientists found a pharmacological way to
inhibit the interaction between MDM4 and p53 and were thereby able to restore the tumor suppressive effect of p53 in melanoma cells.
"The restoration of the p53 activity in the
melanoma cells makes these cells more susceptible to chemotherapy and the BRAF inhibitors. In our research, we were able to identify MDM4 as a
very promising target for treatment of melanoma, as part of a combination therapy, concluded Marine.
is the most serious type of
skin cancer and senior citizens are the usual victimes. Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color or
feel of a mole. Most melanomas have a black or black-blue area. Melanoma may also appear as a new mole. It may be black, abnormal or
Thinking of "ABCD" can help you remember what to watch
● Asymmetry - the shape of one half does not match the other
● Border - the edges are ragged, blurred or irregular
● Color - the color in uneven and may include shades of black, brown and tan
● Diameter - there is a change in size, usually an increase
Melanoma can be cured if it is diagnosed and treated early. If melanoma is not removed in
its early stages, cancer cells may grow downward from the skin surface and invade healthy tissue. If it spreads to other parts of the body it
can be difficult to control.
Couples encouraged to examine each other for
suspicious moles that could be skin cancer. Researchers estimate that 40
50% of people in the U.S. who live to age 65 will have nonmelanoma
skin cancer at least once.