Researchers find chemotherapy resistant genes

UC Irvine researchers announced this week that they have had a breakthrough in melanoma research, discovering why the deadly skin cancer is largely resistant to chemotherapy and other existing therapies.

UCI dermatologist Dr. Anand Ganesan and a team have been researching melanoma, which kills 10,000 people in the United States yearly, since 2007.

They dissected melanoma cells and performed a genome-wide scan, finding that two genes, RhoJ and Pak1, prevent cells from "sensing" when they are damaged and therefore build up a tolerance to cancer-killing drugs. The cells, Ganesan said, are then prone to survive.

"We discovered that when you inhibit these two genes, the cell realizes the DNA damage has occurred and that it needs to die," Ganesan said.

This discovery, he said, one day could lead to the development of supplement chemotherapy treatments for melanoma.

"What's exciting about this is that now we've made this exciting observation," Ganesan said. "I see patients as well as do research. The nice thing about this is it directly points out a new therapeutic strategy to help melanoma patients."

— Brittany Woolsey

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