A Lou Gehrig’s disease drug may work to treat melanoma patients who otherwise would have little hope, a new study shows.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It is aggressive and often spreads to the brain. Melanoma tends to be resistant to radiation, requiring larger doses, which can be toxic to brain tissue.
Researchers wanted to see if a drug called riluzole used in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Riluzole has been shown to block activation of a protein called GRM1 which helps melanoma cells grow and spread.
After a 37-day period, they found tumor growth was reduced when riluzole and radiation were combined.
“With approximately 50 percent of patients with melanoma developing brain metastasis and fewer than 13 percent of those patients surviving one year or more, identifying new therapies for this population is paramount,” says James S. Goydos, M.D., an author of the study published in Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research.
Since the same protein is also found in breast and prostate cancer, the researchers theorize riluzole could be useful in treating those diseases as well.
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