Scientists at the University of Alberta have successfully synthesized a natural substance that shows highly unusual potential to selectively treat melanoma, a type of skin cancer that is often fatal.
Dennis Hall, U of A chemistry professor, has said that after three years of work, his research team has successfully produced the substance called Palmerolide A.
"The potency of palmerolide is exceptional and melanoma is a very aggressive cancer for which there is almost no chemotherapeutic recourse. Natural substances like palmerolide offer real hope for such treatments," said Hall.
"Current chemotherapy as an overall strategy is not very effective in treating melanoma. Less than a quarter of patients respond to chemotherapy and it typically only works for less than a year, and it has little to no effect on survival time. Palmerolide A as a targeted therapy may prove to be more effective [for treatment] with less toxicity.
"One of the problems with most cancer drugs is the lack of selectivity for cancer cells versus normal cells. Preliminary data for Palmerolide A looks very promising in terms of solving this issue.
"For commercialization, the structure needs to be made more 'drug-like;' smaller and more water-soluble, while preserving the potency," he added.