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New drug might stop melanoma

Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University have found again that vegetables contain compounds which could benefit melanoma patients. Certain compounds, extracted from broccoli and cabbage and combined with selenium, could target tumors way more effectively than the therapies currently used. The experiments on mice were successful.
“There are currently no drugs to target the proteins that trigger melanoma,” said Gavin Robertson, one of the researchers. “We have developed drugs from naturally occurring compounds that can inhibit the growth of tumors in mice by 50 to 60 percent with a very low dose.”

The whole process is based on stopping the Akt3 protein. Compounds that can block it are called isothiocyanates. They can be found in vegetables, especially broccoli. Scientists have combined them with selenium, and ended up having a drug that can be distributed intravenously.
“Cancer patients are known to have selenium deficiency, including those diagnosed with metastatic melanoma,” said Robertson. “Besides, selenium is known to destabilize Akt proteins in prostate cancer cells.”

The study was performed on mice. Scientists first injected ten million cancer cells, and after six days tumors developed. They then took half of the mice and treated them with vegetable compounds, and the other half with vegetable compounds combined with selenium.
“We found that the selenium-enhanced compounds significantly reduced the production of Akt3 protein and shut down its signaling network,” said Robertson.

The human trials are expected to begin in a couple of years, and the Penn State researchers hope that the final drug will be delivered intravenously or through sunscreen lotions in order to prevent melanoma.

The details are published in Clinical Cancer Research.

Adopted from materials found at psu.edu

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