SYDNEY, Australia – A new discovery by an Australian researcher said an all-new generation of long-lasting drugs for melanoma was on the way.

Melanoma is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in melanocytes (cells that color the skin). The University of Newcastle announced yesterday in Sydney that Prof. Xu-Dong Zhang had made the discovery, which has excited other researchers around the world.

stages of Melanoma
Stages of Melanoma

 

Zhang said research showed that a protein known as RIP1, found, and was previously linked to natural cell death in the body, has a pro-survival function in melanoma cells.

“We started investigating RIP1 from a perspective of necrotic cell death before finding that it actually plays an important role in regulating melanoma cell survival,’’ he said. “We had to turn our entire thinking around,” he added.

He said it appeared to be up regulated from the earliest stages of melanoma. Zhang said if researchers can inhibit the molecule’s survival mechanism, then they would be able to kill melanoma cells, either alone or in combination with existing drugs.