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Epigenomic changes play an important role during the progression of melanoma

Human DNA contains genetic information that makes our cells functional entities within a larger whole. The stream of information from DNA to function happens in the form of proteins that anchor themselves to various locations in the DNA and transcribe genetic information into functional cell parts. This process is strictly regulated and is thus very sensitive to change by external factors…

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More than 40 melanoma-specific genes that determine aggressiveness identified

What is the function of these genes? Strangely, the factors that are increased in melanoma share a common mechanism: the formation of vesicles called endosomes. Endosomes are machinery that tumor cells, via a process called endocytosis, can use to incorporate components into their environment and obtain energy by degrading them via autodigestion or autophagy…

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Surgeons report melanoma recurs after 10 years in more than 6 percent of patients

"For patients with melanoma, survival beyond 10 years without a recurrence has been considered nearly synonymous with a cure," said principal investigator Mark Faries, MD, FACS, a professor of surgery at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center, Santa Monica, CA. "However, most studies do not follow up patients longer than 10 years. Our study found that late melanoma recurrence is not rare and that it occurs more frequently in certain patient groups." Patients with a higher chance of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — recurring more than a decade later, compared with early recurrence of melanoma within the first three years, were typically a younger age at initial diagnosis and generally exhibited less serious characteristics of the original tumor, Dr. Faries and colleagues reported…

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Diabetes drug points the way to overcoming drug resistance in melanoma

Their studies, conducted in cell and animal models of melanoma, demonstrate that the combined therapy could destroy a subset of drug-resistant cells within a tumor. "We have found that the individual cells within melanoma tumors are not all identical, and tumors contain a sub-population of cells that are inherently drug resistant, which accounts for the fact that advanced melanoma tumors return no matter how much the tumor is depleted," said Meenhard Herlyn, D.V.M., D.Sc., professor and director of Wistar’s Melanoma Research Center. "We found that these slow-growing, drug-resistant cells are marked by a high rate of metabolism, which makes them susceptible to diabetes therapeutics." "Our findings suggest a simple strategy to kill metastatic melanoma — regardless of cell type within the tumor — by combining anticancer drugs with diabetes drug," Herlyn said. "The diabetes drug puts the brakes on the cells that would otherwise repopulate the tumor, thus allowing the anticancer drug to be more effective." In the Cancer Cell article, the researchers describe how various anticancer drugs, including cisplatin and the targeted therapy vemurafenib, which targets melanomas with the BRAF mutation, become more effective when co-delivered with phenformin. …

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