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New potential melanoma drug target discovered

Posted on: FirstWord Pharma

– (Science Daily via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Study results published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research suggest that a possible new drug target for melanoma, Science Daily reported.
  • Researchers at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center found high levels of a particular enzyme, called interleukin-2 inducible T-cell kinase, or ITK, in melanoma samples that they believe is a driver of the cancer’s growth.
  • In an analysis of normal skin tissue, non-cancerous moles and melanoma samples, researchers found that ITK was expressed at greater levels in primary and metastatic melanomas than in non-cancerous moles.
  • According to the researchers, the gene’s expression in the melanoma cells was a driver of the cancer and when they manipulated cells in the test tube to have lower ITK expression, they found that the cells reproduced more slowly and with less movement.
  • They also found that an experimental inhibitor of the ITK protein’s activity had the same effect on cells and slowed tumor growth in mice with melanoma.
  • The enzyme has not previously been explored as a driver of solid tumors, but the researchers hope the findings could lead to new treatments for melanoma since one drug that can block ITK’s activity has been approved for blood cancers and others are in the pipeline for other diseases.

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