Melanoma drug breakthrough at MSU

A Michigan State University researcher has discovered a potential drug to reduce the growth of melanoma in cells by up to 90%.

MSU Pharmacology Professor, Richard Neubig, has been working on a drug to prevent the spread of melanoma in cells for more than 13-years.

And now, mission accomplished.

According to Neubig, “It’s a gene transcription, which is a way that genes make proteins, and that’s been considered un-drugable, and we found this compound in a screen in cells, rather than using a pure protein, which is the usual approach.”

Neubig says, the man-made drug goes after a gene’s ability to produce certain proteins in melanoma tumors that spreads the disease.

But this new compound can almost stop that process.

“It’s taken us years and years to really do the drug development aspects of improving the compound so that we could get to the stage we’re at now,” says Neubig.

According to Sara Wilchowski, Physician Assistant at Forefront Dermatology, 1 out of every 57 people will be diagnosed with melanoma.

“If you look at a classroom at Michigan State, it’s probably over the average maybe 300 students, if you think about that, there’s going to be 6 students in a classroom that are going to get diagnosed with melanoma at some point in their life, that’s a really high statistic,” claims Wilchowski.

She says, there are medications out there that can slow the progression of melanoma, however, there’s nothing yet that can actually stop the disease in it’s tracks.

“So this, if in fact, does come into a pilot study on humans, this could be groundbreaking,” says Wilchowski.

Moving forward, Neubig says, he’s hoping to be able to start working towards clinical trials in humans, but those are still 2-4 years out.

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