WLNS – Melanoma. It’s the deadliest form of cancer. It can start out virtually microscopic on your skin– but quickly spread through-out your body.
“For some people melanoma at this point is a death sentence”.
Certified physician Sara Wilchowski with forefront dermatology knows exactly how *serious* melanoma is.
She sees patients battling it every week.
“I’ve had patients who’ve had melanoma on their skin and have had metastasis to their spinal cords, to their brains, to their liver and to their lungs. so if we can stop that spread ahead of time, we’re saving lives,” forefront dermatology certified physician Sara Wilchowski said.
That’s exactly what a team of Spartan scientists is doing. They’ve created a chemical compound with goals of turning it into a treatment drug.
“These compounds aren’t on earth, we invent them, we create them,” MSU Pharmacology and Toxicology Chair Professor Rick Neubig said.
If successful, their efforts could *stop* deadly melanoma in its tracks with a little pill.
“To prevent it from spreading or when someone gets surgery to eliminate the melanoma to make sure there are no other melanoma cells remaining”.
Professor Neubig and his team worked on a compound for more than a decade, and now their research is paying off, as a possible treatment is being tested on animals. While he says this possible drug is still years away from FDA approval, as cases of melanoma grow, he says the need for this drug is dire.
“Incidents of melanoma has increased about 50 percent, primarily in young women actually”.
In fact, according to Dr. Wilchowski, among all Americans, 1 in 57 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year.
As someone who sees the dangers of melanoma first hand, Wilchowski says if this drug makes it through the long approval road ahead, it would change everything.
“So if we can stop that spread ahead of time, we’re saving lives”.
While one Spartan professor is making process by using chemical compounds to end melanoma, another is using old drugs for new uses, to fight childhood cancer.
In her short 9 months on earth, baby Delilah has already battled a deadly form of cancer. She was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was just 4 months old.
“I was just freaked out and going why is, why is this happening, what’s going on, how am i going to make it through this?” Mother of Delilah Leni Steiner-Zehender said.
Steiner-Zehender took her baby in for a check-up, and her world was turned upside down.
“Halloween will forever be the day that our lives changed”.
The doctor noticed Delilah had a bloated stomach and sent her to sparrow for testing. There they found her liver was seven times larger than normal. Steiner-Zehender soon became just one of many parents, faced with a devastating diagnosis for their child.
But there is hope, and it’s coming out of MSU.
“If we had two drugs giving like a double punch to the cancer maybe we can create some synergism so that it will knock out the cancer even more than with one single drug,” MSU Pediatrics Research Associate Chair Professor Andre Bachmann said.
Its stories like Delilah’s, that made Dr. Andre Bachmann commit his life to finding a new drug for neuroblastoma, and he did it by combining two existing FDA approved drugs.
“It saves time and money”.
The drug has already saved lives through testing, and is just a few years away from being available to hospitals, since one part of the drug is already being used to treat the cancer.
The drug lowers the chance of reoccurrence of the cancer down the road and attacks the tumors that cause the cancer.
“Why wait for the relapse, can we do something to prevent it from coming back”.
For Delilah, she has been in remission the past few months, and has a hopeful outlook for the future.
“If its continuing to shrink, or completely gone at that point, they will release her to go back to daycare,” Steiner-Zehender said.
But Delilah’s story isn’t everyone’s, which is why Bachmann is continuing to perfect the drug and make it more accessible to families across the country.