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A study has a revealed a compound that shows promise in treating melanoma.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer caused primarily by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays.
It accounts for just five per cent of skin cancer, but is responsible for more than 75 per cent of skin cancer deaths.
Research, published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, has found that when it was used in a drug it could kill melanoma cancer cells without harming nearby healthy cells.
Researchers successfully tested the compound on both mice and human cells in a petri dish.
Previous attempts to treat melanoma haven’t demonstrated much promise.
However, this compound caused human melanoma cells to die and inhibited tumour growth by 69 per cent in mice.
Current treatments for melanoma patients include dacarbazine and temozolomide.
However, the response rate has been unsatisfactory.
This time, the researchers had looked at isothiocyanates, which can be found in vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, and are known for their cancer prevention properties.
Dr Arun Sharma, associate professor of pharmacology at Penn State College of Medicine, said: “There are a lot of recommendations that, for example, broccoli can reduce your chances of getting cancer.
“Those are OK recommendations for prevention, but the compounds in the vegetables alone may not be potent enough to be used in a therapeutic environment."
However, to improve the effectiveness they modified the drug by replacing the sulfur in a compound they studied earlier with selenium, as well as varying the length of the alkyl chain to create isoselenocynate.
They went through several variations before they settled on a compound that they thought could kill the cancer cells without increasing toxicity levels.
Sharma added: “We designed it for easy elimination from the body, so, consequently, toxicity should be reduced.”
The researchers are continuing to study the actual mechanism behind how the drug works.
This material was created exclusively for WorldHealthNews project by MIchael Kelly.
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