Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the United Kingdom reveal how adding leflunomide — an immunosuppressive drug used for treating rheumatoid arthritis — to a current melanoma treatment halted the growth of melanoma cancer cells in mice.
The team's promising findings were recently published in the journal Oncotarget.
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that begins in melanocytes, which are skin cells that produce melanin — that is, the pigment that helps to protect our skin from the sun, and which gives the skin its "tan" color.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), melanoma accounts for just 1 percent of all skin cancers, but it is responsible for a large proportion of skin cancer deaths.
This year alone, around 9,730 people in the United States are expected to die from melanoma, highlighting the need for more effective treatments.
Lead researcher of the new study Dr. Grant Wheeler, of the School of Biological Sciences at UEA, and colleagues believe that leflunomide could help to meet this need by boosting existing melanoma treatments.