Cancer Diagnostics / Diagnostics Industry

BRAF and the Treatment of Melanoma Cells in Skin Cancer

BRAF and the Treatment of Melanoma Cells in Skin CancerIn November 2013, the Randox Research division had the opportunity to attend the National Cancer Research Institute’s annual conference. The event attracted over 2,000 delegates and over 40 lectures and workshops filled the four days. One of the lectures was presented by Richard Marais, discussing his work focusing on melanoma.

Professor Richard Marais opened his talk with the good news that eight out of ten patients suffering with the condition can undergo surgery and have the affected area successfully removed; however that still leaves two in ten patients whose cancer is too far advanced to treat with surgery, and as a result is much more difficult to fight. Professor Marais presented his research based around skin cancer, and how RAS signalling can be manipulated to potentially give the advanced stage cancer patients extra time to live.

Marais’s work has centred on and around the BRAF gene, and resulted in the development of vemurafenib, which when administrated to patients offers those facing their own mortality an invaluable extra few months. Although pleased with the impact that vemurafenib has on terminal cancer patients, he was very aware that it is far from a cure. He went on to describe that melanoma skin cells evolve in a variety of ways and are therefore difficult to cure. Professor Marais explained that this led his team to try to better understand the molecular mechanisms that allow skin cancer to evolve and resist treatment.

Although not yet at a cure, he believes that the way to fight skin cancer is to ‘pre-emptively treat resistance before it appears’- in essence developing a precision medicine platform that can predict resistance mechanisms in a tumour before a patient relapses; giving the patient and doctors a head start on cancer.

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