A research conducted at the University of East Anglia (UEA) points to the possibility of treating adverse skin cancers by combining a drug used in rheumatoid arthritis. The melanoma tumor, causing a high instance of deaths, develops during certain forms of skin cancer. Melanoma can be treated if diagnosed early, but its contagiousness makes treatment difficult in later stages. The research aimed to combine different sets of treatments to device a combat mechanism for metastatic melanoma. The combination of therapies makes it possible to attack the disease from multiple directions, thus, attenuating the intensity of melanoma.

Combining Inhibitors with Drugs to Enhance Effectiveness

A drug named leflunomide, used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, was combined with drugs that attack certain genetic mutations of melanoma. The research elaborated the effectiveness of leflunomide in attacking melanoma by combining it with other anti-melanoma drugs. Furthermore, melanoma survives through the aid provided by a protein called MEK; until now MEK inhibitors were combined with BRAF inhibitors to counter melanoma. The research has made advances in this regard by showing that the addition of leflunomide to the MEK-BRAF inhibitor combination could enhance the effectiveness in countering melanoma.

Research Pathway to Understand Action of Drugs

The scientists tested the combination of drugs on mice to derive analogies. Primarily, leflunomide was tested on melanoma cells with no ascertained genetic configuration of their cancer. The results showed that leflunomide can be used for all melanoma cases irrespective of the cell mutation. Further, the leflunomide drug was combined with the selumetinib drug to find that the combined effectiveness of these drugs was greater than their individual ability to counter melanoma. Despite this successful discovery, the apprehension that melanoma could eventually develop immunity against the drug combination is still a matter of concern.