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Experimental Cancer Drug & Other Breakthroughs Research Roundup: September 2016

Experimental Cancer Drug May Stop Melanoma

The Bite-Sized Synopsis: Researchers at the School of Medicine and UVA Cancer Center are seeing great promise in an experimental cancer drug that may help stop melanoma, along with other forms of cancer. The drug also seems effective in melanomas that are typically resistant to treatment. Scientists had been uncertain how it kills cancer cells, but the UVA researchers determined that it denies cancers an essential protein that they rely on to replicate and divide at a rapid rate.

What This Could Mean for You: The drug is already being tested in people. Tarek Abbas, PhD, of the Department of Radiation Oncology and the UVA Cancer Center says he and his team “have great hope that this drug will have very significant impact on melanoma in general.”

Read more about this experimental cancer drug.

Six Little Molecules Could Help Fight Ebola, Cancer

The Bite-Sized Synopsis: Researcher Christopher Stroupe of the School of Medicine is targeting six molecules – together called HOPS – that are essential both for Ebola to infect cells and for cancer cells to grow and survive. Stroupe is developing a purified form of HOPS to facilitate the development of new drugs to battle these deadly diseases.

What This Could Mean for You: Stroupe hopes to further understand the role of HOPS in yeast and then take that information and translate it to humans. Currently, there are no drugs approved to fight Ebola. “HOPS is a completely new target for antiviral drug development,” Stroupe said.

Read more about the HOPS research.

Looking Into Causes of Diarrhea Gives Ways to Save Children’s Lives

The Bite-Sized Synopsis: Researchers at the School of Medicine have determined that nearly 90 percent of childhood diarrhea worldwide is caused by pathogens – a number that, until now, was believed to be only 50 percent. Many times, these children have been infected with multiple pathogens, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of illness.

Eric Houpt, MD, and his collaborators, including Jie Liu, PhD, and James A. Platts-Mills, MD, determined the top six causes of childhood diarrhea by re-analyzing more than 10,000 samples collected as part of the Global Enterics Multi-Center Study. The researchers used new and improved analysis techniques developed, in part, at UVA.

What This Could Mean for You: Diarrhea is the second-leading cause of death among children under age 5, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By targeting just the top six causes identified by Houpt’s team, doctors could reduce the death rate by 70 percent.

Learn more about how this study is helping save children’s lives.



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