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Overcoming drug resistance in skin cancer

  • Researcher: Dr Bin Zheng
  • Institution: Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA
  • Award Amount: £215,731 for 3 years from 1st January 2019
  • Cancer Type: melanoma, Skin Cancer
Overcoming drug resistance in skin cancer
Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer, killing over 2,200 people each year in the UK and over 9,000 in the US. It is estimated that around 90% of melanoma cases can be prevented because the primary cause is over exposure to UV rays from the sun. Melanoma becomes deadly late on in the disease once it has spread to vital organs, so stopping this from happening is key to preventing melanoma related deaths.

Around 60% of all melanomas carry a genetic mutation to a gene called “B-Raf” and drugs that target this mutation show a lot of success in the clinic. However, many patients go on to develop resistance to this class of drugs known as BRAF inhibitors. Dr Bin Zheng at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA, is working out how this resistance occurs to find ways to overcome it.

Dr Zheng and his team are looking at how melanoma cells alter the way they obtain and utilise energy from the sugar glucose when they become resistant to BRAF inhibitors. Through their studies, they hope to uncover new therapeutics strategies that could be used to develop drugs targeting resistant cancer cells.

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