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MSU Researcher Seeks Melanoma Drug

Dr. Rick Neubig photo
Scott Pohl
Dr. Rick Neubig is looking for ways to combat melanoma in the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer, claiming 10,000 lives every year in the United States. Research now underway at Michigan State University has focused on a potential new drug that could reduce the spread of melanoma cells by up to 90-percent.

The earlier melanoma is treated, the better. It’s as simple as that. Dr. Rick Neubig is chairman of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. Melanoma runs in Dr. Neubig’s family, so this research hits home for him.

Dr. Neubig says self diagnosis is key to early detection in the form of monthly skin checks. He does that himself. If a marking has become dark or irregular, thicker, larger, or has turned a shade of dark blue, you should see a dermatologist.

Removal is the first line of defense, but if the melanoma has begun to spread, drugs could come into play. Dr. Neubig’s research is designed to improve drug therapy for melanoma.

In a study using mice, Dr. Neubig reports hopeful results in the reduction of tumors. Human melanoma cells are injected into the tail vein of a mouse, and then the number of melanomas in the lung is counted.

According to Dr. Neubig, MSU is working to get to what drug companies are looking for. That means human trials, or in his words, something that’s “been in people.”

While the MSU research was initially funded by the National Institutes of Health, that kind of research usually requires partnering with a private, commercial entity. Getting something to the marketplace is at least a couple of years off, and there is a lot of competition to get there first.

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