(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Energy-producing processes are potential new drug targets in the battle against melanoma, according to an international team of researchers. This conclusion is based on a study entitled “Mitochondrial Respiration – An Important Therapeutic Target in Melanoma,” which was published in PLoS One on August 17.

The design of this study is based on previous research on the possible role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the development of cancer. Mitochondria, also known as the powerhouses of the cell, produce ROS as a byproduct of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), a major source of energy to power cellular processes. In this study, the investigators aimed to determine the effects of ROS on the progression of melanoma. To meet their aim, the investigators cultured metastatic melanoma cells in the laboratory to take of advantage of their high levels of OXPHOS activity.

The investigators observed that treating these metastatic melanoma cells with the drug, Elesclomol, caused the cancer cells to die by apoptosis. This treatment was also associated with reduction of OXPHOS activity in the cells. The investigators reported that when the cells produced energy in the absence of OXPHOS activity – a process known as glycolysis – they were resistant to treatment with Elesclomol. Prolonged exposure of melanoma cells to this drug also led to selection of melanoma cells that were resistant to the drug and had high levels of glycolysis.

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Based on these findings, the investigators concluded that anticancer drugs that target OXPHOS may have efficacy for advanced melanoma.