Melanoma Drug Revs Immune Cells But Cancer Cells Ignore It

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Melanoma

An important drug used in the treatment of malignant melanoma has little effect on the melanoma cells themselves. Instead, it activates immune-system cells to fight the disease.

The drug, called interferon alpha (IFNa), is used to clean up microscopic tumor cells that may remain in the body following surgery for the disease. It is the only drug approved for this purpose.

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Researchers say that these findings underscore the need to develop ways to make melanoma cells more vulnerable to the drug, or to overcome the block within the cells that prevents them from responding to it.

The study showed that melanoma cells taken directly from patients, as well as those grown in the laboratory, respond poorly to IFNa, even when the drug is given at very high doses, while immune cells respond well to the same substance.

The study, led by researchers with the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, is published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

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