For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that a natural substance, gossypin, found in vegetables and fruits can halt melanoma cells – and they say they know why….
Not all skin cancers are life-threatening but there is one form – melanoma – which is difficult to treat successfully and can be deadly. A type of cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin), it can start in a mole (skin melanoma), but can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as in the eye or even the intestines. According to the National Cancer Institute, almost 77,000 new cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed in the US this year.
Currently, there is no single therapeutic agent or combination treatment available to treat all melanomas. About 9,480 Americans are predicted to die in 2013 from this malignancy which can spread throughout the body. But there’s good news on the research front about the disease. For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that a natural substance, gossypin, found in vegetables and fruits can halt melanoma cells – and they say they know why.
“We identified gossypin as a novel agent with dual inhibitory activity towards two common mutations that are the ideal targets for melanoma treatment,” Texas Biomed’s Hareesh Nair, Ph.D., who headed the research, said in a media statement. “Our results indicate that gossypin may have great therapeutic potential as a dual inhibitor of mutations called BRAFV600E kinase and CDK4, which occur in the vast majority of melanoma patients.”
Nair added that his research team’s findings “… open a new avenue for the generation of a novel class of compounds for the treatment of melanoma.”
Natural substance blocks growth of melanoma cells
For the new study, just published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Nair and his colleagues worked with human melanoma cells in the lab. They found that gossypin inhibited human melanoma cell proliferation in melanoma cell lines that harbor the two mutations, possibly by directly binding with them.
What’s more, the veggie and fruit derived substance inhibited the growth of a variety human melanoma cells. In addition, in animal experiments using mice transplanted with human melanoma cell tumours, gossypin treatment for 10 days reduced tumour volume and increased survival rate.
Nair’s team is now working to understand how the body absorbs gossypin and how it is metabolised. In the media statement, the researchers noted discussions are underway with the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center about testing gossypin in melanoma patients.
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