Global Health Asia-Pacific May 2022 May 2022 - Page 29

Topical drugs might treat birthmarks linked to skin cancer
The approach has been successful against the condition and in cancer prevention

Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital ( MGH ) in the

US have developed lab models that could help improve treatment of huge moles affecting patients from birth . The models showed that several drugs could reduce the severity of such birthmarks , with one of them protecting against skin cancer as well .
Called congenital giant nevus , the mole can cover a large portion of the face or body and can later grow into cancer . Children often have to undergo extensive surgery to remove it , which results in large and permanent scars .
“ The goals of our study were to develop a series of animal models designed to elucidate key biological features of these lesions , and to test nonsurgical drug treatments to skin , aiming to cause the nevus cells to recede , thereby removing the need for surgical treatments ,” senior author Dr David E . Fisher , director of the MGH Cancer Center ’ s Melanoma Program and director of MGH ’ s Cutaneous Biology Research Center , said in a press release .
One drug caused the moles in the mouse models to fully regress after three treatments while providing complete prevention against skin cancers .
The next step is to refine the approach and test its safety in patients with the condition . “ The overall goals are to prevent melanoma in these patients and also to avoid the disfigurement challenges from these lesions ,” said Dr Fisher .
Genetic changes can predict oesophageal cancer
Detecting changes in DNA might therefore serve as a screening method for patients with Barret ’ s oesophagus

Specific DNA changes in the precancerous condition called Barrett ’ s oesophagus ( BE ) can indicate if patients will develop oesophageal cancer in the next few years .

Researchers at Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have pinpointed how damage to a tumour-suppressing gene called TP53 can serve as a potential sign of future cancer .
“ Most patients who progressed [ to esophageal cancer ] had two ‘ hits ’ [ changes that likely inactivate normal gene function ] to TP53 ,” said Dr . Thomas Paulson , who co-led the project , in a press release . “ In these patients , cells with altered TP53 had spread to larger regions of the esophagus and persisted over longer periods of time compared to patients who didn ’ t progress to cancer .”
The study involved 80 patients and compared DNA changes in patients with BE who developed cancer to those in people whose condition remained benign . In most cases , BE doesn ’ t turn malignant and requires no treatment , although it can lead to oesophageal adenocarcinoma in about five percent of patients . Once it develops , only about 20 percent of patients will survive five years after diagnosis .
According to Dr Paulson , the ultimate goal of the research is to enhance the diagnosis and screening of oesophageal cancer . The study results , however , still need to be confirmed in more patients before the approach can be used in the clinic to identify those with BE who will go on to develop cancer .
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com MAY 2022
27