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Making Melanoma Self-Destruct

MADRID, Spain (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It's our largest organ. Every day it's exposed to air pollution, UV rays and other harmful toxins. So it's no wonder skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. A research facility in Spain is helping those with the disease beat the clock.

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Every eight minutes, someone is diagnosed with it, and every hour 23 people die from it. Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, which unfortunately, Brendie Keane is all too familiar with.

"My eyes were starting to change and I noticed that I had a new mole on my face," Keane recalled to Ivanhoe.

A biopsy confirmed her worst fear.

"I knew how dangerous melanoma was and the fatalities associated with it so it was pretty scary," Keane said.

If it goes undetected, melanoma spreads quickly to the rest of the body.

"Surgery so far is the best approach to treat melanoma but it only works effectively for very early melanomas," Maria Soengas, a dermatologist at the Spanish National Cancer Research Institute in Madrid, Spain, said.

A team of dermatologists in Madrid are testing a new compound that causes melanoma cells to self-destruct while leaving healthy cells behind.

"Basically what we manage to do is trick them into thinking they are being attacked or infected by a virus," Soengas explained.

When they do this, lysosomes stick to melanoma cells and break them down.

So far the drug been tested on cancer cell cultures and in mice, and has shown no toxicity or side effects. However, Soengas says that does not necessarily mean it will affect humans the same way. The next step is a clinical trial to find that out.

The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Maria Soengas
Director Melanoma Group
Spanish National Cancer Research Institute
Tel: 917328000, Ext: 3680

American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
Joseph Catapano
Communication Specialist
(703) 248-4772

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