Melanomas are aggressive, frequently metastatic tumors responsible for 75 percent of skin cancer deaths. Advanced melanoma is generally difficult to treat, and a significant portion of patients will develop distant metastases even with early intervention. Given the continually rising incidence of melanoma —despite education about minimizing exposure to sunlight—there is a need for more effective prevention, especially in high risk individuals. Our plant-based oral drug could work together with behavioral modifications to minimize the risk of melanoma.

Technology Description

The key ingredient of our drug is sulforaphane (SFN), which is a naturally-occurring anticancer compound found in low concentrations in vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Using enzymatic digestion of broccoli sprouts, we prepared capsules to provide people with a fixed quantity of  SFN. In mice, this formulation  and  dosage delayed melanoma progression.  Additionally, we identified possible SFN-related biomarkers for the progression of atypical moles to melanoma. We tested these biomarkers in a randomized, comparative  study in human subjects with  melanoma-dependent atypical nevi —a precursor and risk factor for melanoma


  • Potential to prevent the development of melanoma
  • Natural product with no significant toxicity or side effects
  • Delivered orally


  • Reduce the development of melanoma precursor lesions
  • Slow the progression of atypical moles into melanoma
  • Potentially applicable to other types of cancer

Stage of Development

Phase I clinical trial complete

IP Status

U.S. Patent 9,393,225 issued


John Kirkwood, MD
Shivendra Singh, PhD
Jan H. Beumer, PharmD, PhD