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c-Mer proto-oncogene tyrosine kinase (MERTK)

In vitro and mouse studies suggest MERTK inhibitors could help treat melanoma. In about 50% of primary human melanoma cells, MERTK expression correlated with disease progression and was greater than that in normal melanocytes. In human melanoma cell lines, small hairpin RNA against MERTK or a MERTK inhibitor increased apoptosis and decreased proliferation and invasion compared with vehicle. In a mouse xenograft model for human melanoma, small hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of MERTK led to decreased tumor growth compared with no knockdown. Ongoing work includes testing a MERTK inhibitor in mouse models for melanoma (see MERTK: upstream from BRAF, page 5).

SciBX 6(16); doi:10.1038/scibx.2013.386
Published online April 25, 2013

Patented by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; available for licensing or partnering

Schlegel, J. et al. J. Clin. Invest.; published online April 15, 2013;
Contact: Douglas K. Graham, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, Colo.