Researchers at Tel Aviv University have untangled the metastatic mechanism of melanoma, which is the most aggressive of all skin cancers. A paper was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, that states the scientists discovered that before spreading to other organs, a melanoma tumor will send out tiny vesicles that contain molecules of microRNA. These will induce morphological changes in the dermis in the preparation for receiving and transporting the cancer cells. The researchers have found chemical substances that can stop the process and promises drug candidates.
Melanoma is not in the initial tumor that appears on the skin. It is instead in its metastasis, and tumor cells are sent off to colonize in vital organs as the brain, lungs, liver and bones, according to research leader, Dr. Carmit Levy of the Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at TAY’s Sackler School of Medicine. They have discovered how the cancer spreads to distant organs and found ways to stop the process before the metastatic stage.
Prof. Jorg D. Hoheisel and Laureen Sander at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Dr. Shoshi Greenberger at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer, Israel and Dr. Ronen Brenner at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel has worked closely in collaboration with the TAU group.
Melanoma is the most aggressive and lethal type of skin cancer that causes the death of one person every 52 minutes.
This data comes from the Skin Cancer Foundation. The number of diagnosed cases has been rising for the past three decades. In spite of other therapies that have been developed over the years, there is still no full remedy for this life-threatening disease. Novel and effective methods for diagnosing and preventing this deadly of skin cancers has been proposed through the new study.
They began by examining pathology samples taken from melanoma patients before the invasive stage. They found changes in the morphology of the dermis, which is the inner layer of the skin that has not been reported before. The group was able to discover and block a central mechanism in the metastasis of melanoma.
Dr. Levy said that scientists have known for years that melanoma forms in the outer layer of the skin, or the epidermis. The cancer is unable to send off colonizing cancer cells at this early stage because it has no access to blood vessels. The tumor first needs to contact the abundant blood vessels running through the dermis when no blood vessels are present in the epidermis.
They found the cancer itself invades the dermis and sends out tiny vesicles containing molecules of microRNA that induce the morphological changes in the dermis in preparation for receiving and transporting the cancer cells. By blocking the vesicles, they might be able to stop the disease altogether.
The researchers proceeded to look for substances that could intervene and block the process in its earliest stages and found two chemicals. The chemical SB202190 inhibits the delivery of the vesicles from the melanoma tumor to the dermis and U0126 presents the morphological changes in the dermis, even after the arrival of the vesicles. Perhaps looking at natural treatment might be a viable option to drugs?
-Dr Fredda Branyon