Melanoma protein therapy target identified



PHILADELPHIA (UPI) — U.S. medical scientists now say they’ve discovered a protein called Mcl-1 that plays a critical role in allowing melanoma cancer cells to metastasize.

Researchers led by Thomas Jefferson University Associate Professor Andrew Aplin said the protein causes cell-resistance to a form of apoptosis — a type of cell death called anoikis. That resistance, Aplin said, enables the melanoma cells to metastasize and survive at sites distant from the primary tumor.

“When we depleted Mcl-1 from the tumor cells they were susceptible to cell death,” said Aplin, who conducted the study at Albany Medical College in New York. “Our findings show that targeting Mcl-1, which is unregulated in a majority of melanoma cells, could be a viable treatment strategy.”

Aplin said there is one drug now in development that targets Mcl-1. That agent, called obatoclax, is in phase I/II trials.

The research is reported in the journal Molecular Cancer Research.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 20th April 2009

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