UEA Logo Melanoma, an aggressive cancer of the pigment cells in skin may extremely difficult to treat. Researchers from the University of East Anglia and Children’s Hospital Boston assert that the drug leflunomide commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can also inhibit the growth of malignant melanoma. The research findings supposedly offer a novel effective treatment for one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

A rigorous screen of numerous compounds was examined for analyzing the effect of pigment cells development in tadpoles. Several compounds that presumably interfered with pigment cell development were detected. Experts also pointed out that leflunomide strongly restricted tumor growth.

“This is a really exciting discovery – making use of an existing drug specifically to target melanoma. Deaths from melanoma skin cancer are increasing and there is a desparate need for new, more effective treatments. We are very optimistic that this research will lead to novel treatments for melanoma tumours which, working alongside other therapies, will help to stop them progressing,” remarked Dr Grant Wheeler, of UEA’s School of Biological Sciences.

Leflunomide when combined with PLX4720 was seemingly able to completely block tumor growth. It was concluded that leflunomide may be a new treatment for melanoma. The research can probably aid in finding further compounds to treat different diseases in the near future.

The research is published in the March 24 edition of the journal Nature.