Researchers Hit a Melanoma Bulls-Eye

Protein Akt3 targeted by researchers to prevent early stages of melanoma

(RxWiki News) To get a perfect score when shooting darts, it's best to hit the bulls-eye with no misses. The same is true when treating melanoma. Hit the melanoma bulls-eye without hitting the unaffected skin cells around.

Scientists have identified this melanoma bulls-eye as protein Akt3. This protein plays a key role in 70 percent of melanoma. A topical compound called ISC-4 seems effective in hitting this bulls-eye.

"Always put on sunscreen before you go outside."

Gavin Robertson, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, pathology, dermatology and surgery, and director of Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center says that since melanoma cases are steadily increasing, other preventive measures are needed to combine with existing strategies. If Akt3 is inhibited, it could allow for proper skin cell death and therefore prevent melanoma.

Isothiocyantes have already been identified as inhibitors of Akt3. These  naturally occurring compounds can be found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts.

These cruciferous vegetables to have anti-cancer qualities but unfortunately, previous research has shown that they have low chemotherapy potency on melanoma cells because seriously high concentrations are needed to be preventitive.

To create the needed, more potent version, Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center researchers previously developed isoselenocyanates (ISC-4),  replaced sulfur with selenium.

Robertson continues explaining that ISC-4 prevents melanoma by minimizing Akt3 signaling. This signal reduction led to a three-fold increase in cell death rates in this Penn State study. 

Topical ISC-4 can delay or slow down melanoma development in preclinical models which could possibly reduce melanoma incidence rates.

Robertson also observes that one billion dollars is spent on sunscreen in the United States every year. Skin cancer prevention is an enormous market and is still growing.

One strategy may include adding ISC-4 to existing sunscreens and lotions as it could have a profound impact on preventing melanoma.

ISC-4 reduces tumor cells expansion in lab-generated human skin by 80-90 percent and kills melanoma cells 2-5 times more effectively than it kills regular cells.

Instead of surgical excision presently used for melanoma, topical ISC-4 could potentially be used for therapy.

Review Date: 
May 6, 2011