GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Researchers at the Brody School of Medicine have discovered a new compound that could be a breakthrough in the way certain cancers are treated.
The compounded, called PMJ2 for short, only targets cancer cells and leaves healthy cells untouched.
Doctoral student Daniel Ladin discovered the compound. He said it is particularly effective in killing cancer cells since they are under so much stress already.
“They’re undergoing high levels of cell division, and what this agent does is it adds a small amount of stress to those cancer cells, which pushes them over the death threshold,” Ladin said.
Ladin and other researchers successfully filed a patent to protect the breakthrough.
In early tests on animal and human tumor cells, Ladin said the compound seems to be particularly effective in treating melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, as well as colorectal cancer.
“We think it would help in the prevention of recurrence of skin cancer, and also help with decreasing surgical deformities that occur due to the current treatment,” he said.
Ladin said they’ve been using tumors taken from people in the East to test the compound on.
The news of a breakthrough being developed locally is promising for skin cancer survivors like Aubrey Stox. Stox was diagnosed was stage 2 melanoma in November 2016.
“To live in an area where they may have come up with a breakthrough with cancer, it hits close to home,” she said.
Ladin said they are trying to form the compound into a topical that could be easily applied onto the skin. They still have to get FDA approval before testing it on humans.
Ladin said that process could take around three years.