Salt Lake City, UT – Approximately one in 50 people develop melanoma within their lifetime, and the number of new cases of this skin cancer increase each year.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells and isn’t always isolated to one part of the body. Melanoma originates as a single skin tumor which over time can persist and metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body such as the lungs, liver, and brain.
Melanoma is caused by changes in cells called melanocytes, which produce a skin pigment called melanin. Melanin is a photochemical which is responsible for the color of skin, hair, and eyes.
When we encounter prolonged exposure to the sun, the melanin responds to the UV and reacts. This results in a tan or burn. However UV rays can cause mutations in the melanocytes (melanin-producing skin cells) creating melanoma.
The degree of perniciousness and cause of melanoma can depend on multiple factors. Malignant cancer cells proliferate, declining the odds of survivability, and limiting the success of treatment.
Metastasis is what makes melanoma lethal. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and is the leading cause of death from skin disease.
Therefore, researchers at the University of Utah wanted to examine how melanoma spreads and find ways of preventing it.
By having a more thorough understanding of how molecular triggers allow cancer cells to flourish, science can find more effective ways of identifying and eliminating the cause.
Future targeted cancer therapies can therefore be more effective, as current treatments still haven’t managed to achieve long-term survivorship in most patients.
In their research Allie Grossmann, MD, PhD, a molecular genetic pathology fellow at the University of Utah, and her colleagues discovered the involvement of the protein adenosine diphosphate ribosylation factor 6 (ARF6).
They managed to isolate and inhibit ARF6, as part of the SecinH3 signaling cascade, and monitored the aftereffects.
Hampering ARF6 reduced the spread of melanoma to the lungs in mice, according to the study published in Science Signaling, suggesting that targeting ARF6 may be an effective approach to preventing melanoma metastasis.
Inhibiting the entire metastatic signaling cascade represents a potential breakthrough for future drug therapies for not just skin cancer, but also breast and brain cancer (glioblastoma) which are equally influenced by ARF6.
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