3 Things to Know About Melanoma

(DGIwire) – Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It develops when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations that lead the cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF). Anyone whose life has been impacted directly by this form of cancer—or who has a family member whose life has been impacted—ought to learn about the fundamentals behind it. Here are three things to know:

  • People with more than 100 moles are at greater risk for melanoma. Moles, brown spots and growth on the skin are usually harmless but not always, the SCF reports. The first signs can appear in one or more atypical moles. The well-known ABCDE test (asymmetry, border, color, diameter, evolving) test is a good guide to self-examination.
  • Melanoma progresses in stages of severity. Once a specific type of melanoma has been diagnosed, the next step is to classify its stage. As SCF notes, early melanomas (Stages 0 and I) are localized; Stage II tumors are larger and at high risk of spreading to nearby lymph nodes; and Stage III and IV have metastasized to other parts of the body.
  • Immuno-oncology has set its sights on potential therapy. “Recent advances in immune checkpoint inhibition and in RNA interference (RNAi) have inspired studies of therapies that could one day make a difference for treatment of cancers like melanoma,” says Gerrit Dispersyn, Dr.Med.Sc., the President and CEO of Phio Pharmaceuticals.

Phio is at the forefront of these efforts utilizing its proprietary therapeutic “self-delivering” platform. RNAi is a naturally occurring process by which short double-stranded RNAs interfere with the expression of targeted genes. The development of therapeutics based on RNAi technology takes advantage of this phenomenon and allows for the reduction of the expression of particular genes, for example, those that tumors use to evade the immune system. RNAi offers another tool in the armamentarium to fulfill presently undruggable targets, which should translate into improved patient outcomes. Scientists at Phio have used this approach and developed RNAi compounds that do not require elaborate nanoparticle formulations or electroporation to penetrate the cell and enter the cytoplasm, in contrast to conventional RNAi molecules.

Phio is currently studying its proprietary compound PH-762 as a modality for checkpoint inhibition in adoptive cell therapy, which could potentially unlock the full potential of ACT with application in solid tumors including melanoma, triple negative breast cancer, renal cell cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma, as well as hematological cancers, to mention a few.

“Although much work has yet to be done, initial studies involving our self-delivering RNAi platform are promising. This, in combination with our more recent data in the immuno-oncology space, should pique the interest of everyone concerned with melanoma and various other cancers,” Dr. Dispersyn adds.