Researchers at MedUni Vienna have discovered a new treatment option against skin cancer that aims to prevent the formation of metastases. The treatment could begin directly where metastases arise: in melanoma cells, the university announced in a press release. The study results, published in the expert journal “PNAS”, are intended to pave the way for the development of a new drug class.

Cutaneous melanoma, a highly aggressive form of skin cancer, continues to be associated with high mortality. The statement noted that although huge progress has been made recently in combating fatal metastasis, “current treatment measures are still not effective in most cases.” Side effects, resistance, and limited efficacy are considered problems.

“In addition, no drugs are yet available that directly target the ability of melanoma cells to metastasize,” said Wolfgang Weninger and Shweta Tikoo from MedUni University Dermatology Clinic, explaining the starting point of their research study. A key feature of metastasis is the so-called invadopodia. These are cellular structures formed by cancer cells to make it easier for them to invade surrounding tissues. A protein called F-actin is also involved in this process.

With the help of a specially developed, highly sophisticated screen called “Invadopodia”, researchers examined 4,000 currently approved substances for their ability to effectively block invadopodia and F-actin to prevent tumor spread. “We identified kinase inhibitors as promising therapeutics,” Tikoo explained. Kinases are enzymes that play a crucial role in signal transduction within cells. Kinase inhibitors are substances that can block certain signaling pathways, for example to prevent the overgrowth of cancer cells.

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