NWCR funding helps develop new skin cancer drugs

Monday, 12th June 2017 | General | 0 comments

Malignant melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Each year 10,000 new cases are diagnosed in the UK and North West Cancer Research is funding a new piece of research looking at effective treatments.

Currently there has been little research into skin cancer treatments, which is why prognosis for patients can be poor. Patients often develop secondary tumours, which prove to be fatally hard to treat.

Recent developments of drugs called BRAF inhibitors have had a positive impact when treating melanoma patients whose tumour has a particular gene fault.

However, the benefits of these drugs last only six to nine months, as the cancer cells appear to develop a resistance to the medicine making it untreatable.

A pioneering team of researchers at the University of Liverpool have received funding from North West Cancer Research to look at prolonging the effects of BRAF inhibitors and increasing the positive outcomes for patients.

Collaboration pioneering new treatment outcomes

Led by Dr Michael Cross at the University of Liverpool and Mr Rowan Pritchard-Jones, a consultant plastic surgeon at Whiston Hospital, and with the support of the Skin Cancer Research Fund based in Bristol, the team believe they have uncovered the reason why melanoma cancer cells develop a resistance to this treatment.

Dr Cross explains: “Drug resistance happens when residual melanoma cells mutate, causing them to grow rapidly and in a way which is different than before. Our research has discovered a new pathway – almost like a hidden shortcut on a map – which is utilised by melanoma cells and allows them to evade the effects of BRAF inhibitors and develop resistance.

“We are now looking at ways in which we can block this pathway in melanoma cells using a number of new drug combinations. Ultimately we want to develop a new and effective method of treating malignant melanoma, to significantly improve life expectancies for patients.”

The research team has been supported by more than £190,000 worth of funding from North West Cancer Research, which has helped generate these significant scientific breakthroughs which will have a positive impact on patient survival.

To make a donation to North West Cancer Research text NWCR22 plus the amount you wish to donate to 70070 e.g. text ‘NWCR22 £5’ TO 700700

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