Story Via: Times of Israel
Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) say they have unraveled the metastatic mechanism of melanoma, the most aggressive of all skin cancers.
According to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Cell Biology, the scientists discovered that before spreading from the epidermis — the outer layer of the skin where the disease originates — to other organs, a melanoma tumor sends out tiny vesicles containing molecules of microRNA. These cause morphological changes in the dermis — the inner layer of the skin — to prepare it to receive and transport the cancer cells. The researchers also found chemical substances that can stop the process and are therefore promising drug candidates.
“The threat of melanoma is not in the initial tumor that appears on the skin, but rather in its metastasis — in the tumor cells sent off to colonize in vital organs like the brain, lungs, liver and bones,” said research leader Dr. Carmit Levy of the Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at the TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine. “We have discovered how the cancer spreads to distant organs and found ways to stop the process before the metastatic stage.”
The TAU group worked in close collaboration with researchers from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, the Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer, Israel and the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel.
Melanoma, the most aggressive and lethal type of skin cancer, causes the death of one person every 52 minutes according to data from the Skin Cancer Foundation, and the number of diagnosed cases has been on the rise for the past three decades. Despite a range of therapies developed over the years, there is still no full remedy for this life-threatening disease. The new study proposes new and effective methods for diagnosing and preventing this most deadly of skin cancers, the TAU said in a statement.
The researchers began by examining pathology samples taken from melanoma patients. “We looked at samples of early melanoma, before the invasive stage,” Levy said. “To our surprise we found changes in the morphology of the dermis — the inner layer of the skin — that had never before been reported. Our next task was to find out what these changes were, and how they related to melanoma.”
Read more at Times Of Israel