Melanoma treatment options 1 step closer

October 20, 2009

A targeted chemotherapy for the treatment of skin cancer is one step closer, after a team of University of Alberta researchers successfully synthesized a natural substance that shows exceptional potential to specifically treat this often fatal disease.

U of A chemistry professor Dennis Hall said after three years of work, his research team has successfully produced the substance called Palmerolide A.

"The potency of palmerolide is exceptional and melanoma is a very aggressive cancer for which there is almost no chemotherapeutic recourse," said Hall. "Natural substances like palmerolide offer real hope for such treatments.

"Current chemotherapy as an overall strategy is not very effective in treating melanoma. Less than a quarter of patients respond to chemotherapy and it typically only works for less than a year, and it has little to no effect on survival time. Palmerolide A as a targeted therapy may prove to be more effective [for treatment] with less toxicity," said Hall.

"One of the problems with most cancer drugs is the lack of selectivity for cancer cells versus normal cells. Preliminary data for Palmerolide A looks very promising in terms of solving this issue," he said.

"For commercialization, the structure needs to be made more 'drug-like;' smaller and more water-soluble, while preserving the potency," said Hall, who is optimistic that his U of A team is moving forward in the race to develop a treatment for melanoma.
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Hall's research findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Dennis Hall is available for interviews on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Please Contact Wanda Vivequin..

University of Alberta

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