Saturday March 23, 2019

Arthritis drug could be a possibility to cure skin cancer

Only five per cent of skin cancer cases involve melanoma, it causes the majority of deaths from the disease. If caught early, melanoma is very treatable or the treatment becomes more difficult.

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Scientists have found a way of detecting cancer through blood tests. IANS
Scientists have found a way of detecting cancer through blood tests. IANS

London, Dec 20, 2017: Combining the treatment for the most deadly form of skin cancer with a common anti-rheumatic drug could provide more effective results, new research has shown.

The findings showed that using “leflunomide” — an immunosuppressive drug approved for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis — in combination with another melanoma drug, selumetinib almost completely stopped the growth of a melanoma tumour in mice.

“By combining therapies, it’s possible to attack the disease from several angles, which makes it harder for the melanoma to develop resistance to any of the drugs,” said Grant Wheeler from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK.

“Our research has shown that there could also be further benefits – by joining these two drugs together you may be able to enhance their effects, getting a treatment that is more than the sum of its parts,” Wheeler said.

Although only five per cent of skin cancer cases involve melanoma, it causes the majority of deaths from the disease. If caught early, melanoma is very treatable, but once the cancer has metastasised or spread, then treatment becomes more difficult.

The research, published in the journal Oncotarget, tested leflunomide’s effect against melanoma with selumetinib.

When the team tested leflunomide in the lab, it was found to work on melanoma cells irrespective of the genetic signature of the cancer.

This means that leflunomide has the potential to be used in all melanoma cases, not just for tumours harbouring BRAF mutations, the researchers said.

However, when leflunomide was tested on melanoma cells jointly with selumetinib, the scientists found it was more effective than either drug on its own.

In mice, the two drugs together almost completely halted the growth of the tumour over a 12 day period, which far outstripped the effect of either drug used in isolation, the researchers said. (IANS)

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Researchers Develop Novel Treatment to Treat Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis

However, in people with autoimmune disease, these cells somehow escape the checkpoint and the immune system remains in a state of alert, attacking body cells

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Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a novel and safe treatment for autoimmune diseases including Type-1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS) that arise when the body’s immune cells attack itself.

Current treatments eliminate these misfunctioning immune cells, but also destroy normal, protective immune cells, leaving patients susceptible to immune deficiency and opportunistic infections.

The new approach, by researchers from the University of Utah in the US, targets the misfunctioning immune cells while leaving the normal immune cells in place.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, the team engineered a protein molecule to deplete the misfunctioning PD-1-expressing cells from the body while leaving normal immune cells in place.

“We wanted to target PD-1-expressing cells. Using this method, we may avoid long-term immune deficiency caused by common treatments for autoimmune disease,” said lead author Peng Zhao, from the varsity.

When tested in a mouse model mimicking Type-1 diabetes, the treatment delayed the onset of diabetes.

“We are really taking treatment for autoimmune disease in a new direction,” said Mingnan Chen, Assistant Professor at the varsity.

Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

“To make similar therapeutics for people, we would need to find the anti-human PD-1 antibody, like the anti-mouse PD-1 antibody.

“If we can generate the human version of therapeutics, I think we could make a huge impact in treating autoimmune disease,” Chen said.

In addition, the treatment was also applied to a mouse MS model.

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Besides halting the progression of paralysis, the treatment also restored the mice’s ability to walk.

In a normal functioning immune system, the PD-1-expressing cells, including immune cells, contain a mechanism that prevents the cycle from attacking itself.

However, in people with autoimmune disease, these cells somehow escape the checkpoint and the immune system remains in a state of alert, attacking body cells. (IANS)