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Researchers suggest new therapy for drug-resistant skin cancer

IANS  |  London 

A team of researchers has managed to exploit a vulnerability in or that develops resistance to a targeted therapy, providing a potential new therapeutic strategy to selectively kill the drug-cells.

The study has shown that when cells develop drug resistance, they also acquire a new vulnerability, the reported.

The researchers, led by of the and in Denmark, exposed this new vulnerability in that has developed resistance to treatment with a BRAF inhibitor -- a that blocks a signalling pathway in the cancer cell through which it gets the message to keep on dividing.

Since more than half of all patients have a mutation in this BRAF gene, the BRAF-inhibitor stops growth in those patients.

But within a few months, the cell adapts the original signalling pathway and becomes active again, and even hyperactive.

The researchers, however, found that the hyperactive cells produced large amounts of reactive oxygen species, but cancer cells still sensitive to the drug did not do so.

The study, published in the journal Cell, found that the abundance of free radicals caused the cells to stop dividing, but they did not die.

When tested on mice along with an existing drug, vorinostat, which is known to stimulate the production of free oxygen radicals, the researchers saw shrink under the influence of the drug, the report said.

This laid the foundation for a new therapeutic strategy: Treating patients with BRAF-mutated melanoma, as usual, with signal pathway inhibitors.

When the becomes resistant, stop giving those inhibitors and immediately treat the patients with vorinostat to kill the cells.

"It is not a combination drug. It is very important that you first stop the signalling pathway inhibitors because they suppress the free radicals and thus eliminate the effects of vorinostat," Bernards said.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, May 13 2018. 18:24 IST