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Treatment of actinic keratosis and squamous cell carcinoma in situ


Squamous cell carcinoma is primarily caused by cumulative exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation over the course of life. There are approximately 700,000 new people in the United States annually, with the incidence of disease increasing up to 200 percent in the past three decades. This number is only projected to increase with aging populations, climate change, and breakdown of the ozone layer, which further increases our exposure to UV radiation.

Currently, treatments for actinic keratosis and squamous cell carcinoma in situ, precursors to squamous cell carcinoma, include:

  1. in office procedures (cryotherapy, curettage, photodynamic therapy, laser resurfacing, chemical peel); or
  2. prescription medicine that can be used at home (5-fluorouracil (5-FU) cream, diclofenac sodium gel, imiquimod cream, ingenol mebutate gel). 5-FU, imiquimod and ingenol mebutate irritate skin when applied. Diclofenac has lower efficacy than the irritating treatments.


Dr. Seykora and colleagues have demonstrated that topical application of commercially available small molecule kinase inhibitors to SRC kinases and downstream kinases, which are hyperactivated in tissue samples from human patients, provide efficacious targeted and localized therapy for actinic keratosis and squamous cell carcinoma in situ, precursors of squamous cell carcinoma, without inducing inflammation or crusting of skin.


  • Targeted therapy which inhibits the molecule driving cancer growth. This approach manifests strong potential to reduce irritation associated with the less specific agents that are currently available.
  • Preventive and may eliminate damaged cells in UV-exposed skin.
  • Many small molecule kinase inhibitors have physico-chemical properties to penetrate skin efficiently.


  • Topical treatment for actinic keratosis and squamous cell carcinoma in situ, a precursor of squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Potential  treatment for other epidermal diseases driven by overactive SRC kinases and downstream effector molecules. 

Stage of Development: 

  • The correlation between overactive SRC kinase signaling and downstream effectors in skin cancer has been shown in human tissue samples.
  • Proof of concept in an animal model has been completed.

Intellectual Property: 

Desired Partnerships: 

Patent Information:


Docket # V5056

For Information, Contact:

Viviane Martin
University of Pennsylvania