Sun Yang
Chapman School of Pharmacy Professor Sun Yang is working on compounds that show promising anti-melanoma activities.

Pharmacy Researcher Works on Activating the Immune System to Combat Melanoma

Malignant melanoma rates are rising, and physicians are eager for new treatments. A Chapman University School of Pharmacy researcher and a colleague at Northwestern University have developed a strategy that may lead to new drug therapies to treat the cancer.

The approach employs techniques for targeting a small molecule signaling activity in melanoma cells, essentially harnessing the ability of the immune system to selectively recognize and attack cancer cells.

Sun Yang, Ph.D., a Chapman assistant professor of pharmacy, and Richard B. Silverman, Ph.D., a professor at Northwestern, have patented the technique. The research was made possible by grants from the National Institutes of Health. Specifically, the technique targets a messaging molecule critical to regulating tumor microenvironments and relates to melanoma cells’ ability to escape immunosuppression treatments.

Yang says the next step is potential new drug developments.“We have already patented our findings and the leading compounds, which exhibit promising anti-melanoma activities,” Yang says. “We are looking forward to establishing industrial partnerships to advance our project to a more sophisticated stage of drug development. We hope that by publicizing our groundbreaking findings, we will positively impact the future treatment of melanoma.”