Breakthrough in the fight against skin cancer thanks to ULB


Researchers from the Université Libre de Bruxelles have recently discovered one of the reasons why skin cancer recurs after people have been treated for basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer).

A treatment, Vismodegib, exists for this disease, which affects several million patients a year around the world; it reduces the tumour but inevitably leads to a recurrence once the medication is stopped.

The ULB researchers found the cause of the recurrence and have joined forces to resolve it. They discovered that the treatment activates the Wnt signalling pathway. A signalling pathway allows cells to interpret messages from the elements around it. However, this pathway in particular often causes the mutations that lead to cancer, which is why a recurrence of the cancer was inevitable with this treatment. 

But the good news is that medication exists to counter these secondary effects and cut off the Wnt pathway in order to avoid a relapse.

Cédric Blanpain, professor at the ULB and director of the research team, has even confirmed that the next stage will be the use of these two medications simultaneously for certain patients.