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Protein Fuels Melanoma's Growth

Discovery could lead to new treatments for deadly skin cancer, researchers say

MONDAY, Dec. 27, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A protein that plays a critical role in the growth of the deadly skin cancer melanoma has been identified by scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children's Hospital Boston.

They found that malignant melanoma can't grow without a steady supply of this protein, called CDK2. Normal cells don't need CDK2.

The findings suggest it may be possible to develop drugs that cut off the supply of CDK2 to melanoma cells. This may prove an effective way to halt the growth of melanoma without causing damage to other cells.

In research with laboratory-grown melanoma cells, the scientists found that adding a chemical that suppressed the activity of the CDK2 gene, which produces CDK2 protein, significantly slowed the growth and spread of melanoma cells.

CDK2-inhbiting drugs already exist, the study authors noted. They hope their study results will lead to clinical trials of these drugs in people with melanoma.

The study appears in the December issue of Cancer Cell.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about melanoma.

SOURCE: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, news release, Dec. 20, 2004
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