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Researchers made a breakthrough discovery in melanoma treatment

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A breakthrough discovery in melanoma treatment

Researchers at the University of Utah are investigating a new way to stop melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer, from spreading. It seems that by inhibiting the new target discovered (ARF6),  lung metastasis can be stopped. In recent decades, the incidence of melanoma has been increasing constantly so it has come to represent the sixth most common form of cancer in the United States. Although it is the least common of skin cancers, melanoma has the highest mortality rate and it is estimated that one of 50 individuals will develop melanoma during their lifetime. Prognosis depends very much on tumor stage. It is believed that if the tumor is less than 1 mm, the chances of survival at 5 years are approximately 90% but if the tumor has already metastasized in the body, the 5-year survival rate is less than 10%. Metastases can lead to multiple locations in the body such as the liver, lungs, brain, etc..

Lung Metastasis

Lung Metastasis

Allie Grossmann, MD, Ph.D., molecular genetic pathology fellow at the University of Utah and co-first author on the study, said that metastases are those that are lethal in melanoma but their knowledge about the mechanisms underlying metastasis are limited. She added that by understanding these mechanisms of dissemination new therapeutic targets for the treatment of melanoma can be discovered .

Although much progress has been made lately regarding the treatment of this form of cancer, patients still have a poor prognosis. Grossmann and his team of researchers at the University of Utah have found a new molecular pathway involving ARF6, which is implicated in metastasis. Studies have shown that by blocking this signaling pathway using a small molecule known as SecinH3, can stop melanoma metastasis to the lung. Research to date shows that SecinH3 inhibits the whole cascade of metastasis, which is an unparalleled discovery in the treatment of melanoma. Moreover, it seems that ARF6 protein is involved not only in melanoma but also in other cancers such as glioblastoma and breast cancer, where invasion is promoted also by ARF6.

Odelberg Shannon, Ph.D., assistant professor of Internal Medicine and Neurobiology and Anatomy Navigen scientist, and a contributing author on the study, said that although SecinH3 is not available as cure for patients with melanoma, yet this molecule demonstrate that inhibition of ARF6 has therapeutic value in the treatment of melanoma.”Our findings are the first step toward developing potent therapies that may actually prevent or reduce melanoma metastasis,”  added Odelberg.