Lab tests on the first potential drug to pack a lethal one-two punch against melanoma skin cancer cells have been successful, scientists are reporting.
Hit number one destroys cells in the main tumor, and the second hit blocks the spread of the cancer to other sites in the body, according to their report.
Nathan Luedtke and colleagues explain that the spread of melanoma and other forms of cancer beyond the original location - a process called metastasis - makes cancer such a serious disease.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT), which involves administering a drug that kills cancer cells when exposed to light, already is available.
But PDT works only on the main tumor and has other drawbacks.
Luedtke's team set out to find an improved approach to PDT.
The scientists describe successful tests in laboratory mice of one compound they synthesized that not only killed melanoma cells, but also stopped them from metastasizing by blocking a key signal inside the tumor cells.
The compound "provides the first example of a preclinical candidate possessing both of these properties," the scientists state.
The findings are published in the journal ACS Chemical Biology.