In the early stages of research, the new drug pevonedistat is under investigation for its potential to halt the growth of melanoma, a fatal cancer of the skin.
Pevonedistat was originally developed and in trials for its efficacy as a drug to help treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome, which prevents the regular production of all types of blood cells. However, a curious side effect of the medication appeared while under experimentation – melanoma cells stopped replicating when the drug was present.
The CDT2 Protein and Melanoma Treatment
Researchers performing trials on the drug found that the probable cause of pevonedistat’s cancer-reduction effect was the drug’s ability to inhibit the CDT2 protein, which normally allows cancer cells to divide at an incredible rate under remarkable stress.
When pevonedistat inhibits the CDT2 protein, malignant cancer cells become unable to replicate under high-stress conditions and fall apart. Because the cancer cells are so reliant on the presence of the protein, the drug shows incredible promise as a permanent treatment for the presence of melanoma in humans. It may also be one of the first big steps in non-invasive cancer treatments and a gateway to the development of additional treatments for other types of cancer.
Is It Worth Continuing Research?
Indeed it is. Melanoma is a deadly cancer that has a high prevalence in the United States. There are more new cases of skin cancer annually than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer cases combined. It is so common that one-fifth of Americans are likely to develop skin cancer over their lifetime.
It costs $8.1 billion every year to skin cancer treatment – and that’s just in the U.S. Melanoma treatment by itself commands 3.3 billion of those dollars. Despite treatment efforts, the options available in modern medicine to treat melanoma still result in one death every 52 minutes.
|Sunscreen is essential to protecting the skin and preventing skin cancer before it strikes.|
There are ways of helping to prevent the development of melanoma. Of the 86 percent of melanomas caused by the sun, the risk of developing cancer from such sun exposure can be reduced by 50 percent by using SPF 15 or higher sunscreen on a daily basis. However, it is difficult for many people to maintain disciplined sunscreen use, so treatment of active melanoma is a priority.
If pevonedistat proves to be the key to melanoma destruction and treatment, we may see a rise in life expectancy and a positive outlook for patients suffering from other types of cancer. Research may also bring us closer to an understanding of the impetus of malignant cancers and the evolutionary purpose that could unlock a way to harness the power of cancer for good.