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Overcoming drug resistance in skin cancer

Researcher
Dr Bin Zheng
Project period
Jan 2019 - Jan 2021
Country
Research Institute
Massachusetts General Hospital
Cancer types
Skin Cancer
Dr Bin Zheng

Aim of the research

Dr Zheng and his team are looking at how skin cancer cells alter the way they obtain and utilise energy from the sugar glucose when they become resistant to widely used skin cancer drugs.

Meet the Scientist

Dr Zheng is Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. His expertise in how cancer cells change to adapt to their increased thirst for energy has led to clinical trials investigating new treatments for skin cancer.

More about the research project

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 is working out how this resistance occurs to find ways to overcome it.

The main cause of skin cancer is over exposure to UV rays from the sun - around 90% of skin cancer cases could be prevented through better protection from the sun.

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