Novel Topical Treatment that Specifically Targets Skin CancerCase # 1401

















Technology Contact

A. Carlyle Rogers, PhD
Phone: 252-737-1648


 VanDross Description




Each year approximately 2.3 million Americans are afflicted with skin cancer in the United States. Although single tumor lesions can be treated with surgery or radiation, treatment of multiple lesions using available topical agents typically requires weeks or months of treatment. Furthermore, use of currently available treatments, such as Fluorouracil, can result in blisters, burning, sensitivity and scarring at the site of treatment due to nonspecific targeting of tumor cells.


Dr. Rukiyah Van Dross and her co-investigators from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the Brody School of Medicine and the Department of Chemistry at East Carolina University have developed a novel method to treat non-melanoma skin cancer. The novel method employs treating cancerous cells with 15-deoxy-∆12,14-prostaglandin-J-ethanolamide (15dPGJ-EA), a potent antitumor metabolite of the endocannabinoid arachidonoyl ethanolamide (AEA).The mechanism of action of 15dPGJ-EA centers on the molecule's ability to elevate the level of ER stress in tumor cells. Once the level of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in tumor cells passes a certain threshold, apoptosis is induced leading to tumor death.


  • Topical Application
  • Incidence of skin cancer in young adults and elderly population is on the rise 
  • Tumor specific mechanism to induce apoptosis


  • Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
  • Melanoma Skin Cancer
  • Activity Against Colon Cancer Cells

Selected Publications

Kuc et. al. (2011). Arachidonoyl Ethanolamide (AEA)-Induced Apoptosis is Mediated by J-Series Prostaglandins and is Enhanced by Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) Blockade. Molecular Carcinogenesis Van Dross, R. (2009). PMID: 21432910


Metabolism of Anandamide by COX-2 is Necessary for Endocannabinoid-Induced Cell Death in Tumorigenic Keratinocytes. Molecular Carcinogenesis. PMID: 19148897


Inventor Profile

Dr. Rukiyah Van Dross is an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at East Carolina University.Her research interests include understanding the molecular events involved in chemoprevention of skin cancer using the bioflavonoid, apigenin and exploring the signal transduction and transcriptional pathways involved in UV- and TPA- induced cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression. Click to Learn More...

Dr. Allison Danell is an associate professor in the Department Chemistry at East Carolina University. Research in the Danell Lab is focused on fundamental studies and applications of mass spectrometry technology. Click to Learn More...

Dr. Colin Burns is an assistant professor in the Department Chemistry at East Carolina University. Research in the Burns lab focuses on elucidating the metal binding motifs "natively unfolded" proteins use and on characterizing the effect metal binding has on the overall structure of the protein. Click to Learn More...

Dan Ladin is an PhD candidate in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at East Carolina University. working under the guidance of Dr. Rukiyah Van Dross.