New findings could improve prognosis in squamous cell carcinoma patients
Researchers made new progress in terms of diagnosis and possible treatment of squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. The results of the research, which was conducted by scientists at Medical Hospital del Mar Research Institute (IMIM), have been recently published in the journal Cancer Cell.
Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are included in the non-melanoma skin cancers, which represent about 80% of skin cancers. Of non-melanoma skin cancers, squamous cell carcinoma is approximately 20%, but its incidence varies with geographic area, race, age, gender, etc.. It should be noted that squamous cell carcinoma is a cancer of epithelial cells, which means it can develop not only in the epidermis (skin cancer), but also in other parts of the body such as the digestive tract, bladder, lung, prostate, etc.. Although it can occur in several regions of the body, squamous cell carcinoma is the second type of skin cancer and it most commonly occurs in sun-exposed areas (ie skin).
Lluís Espinosa, a researcher of the Stem Cells and Cancer Group at IMIM, who led the study, explained that in this study they have identified a new protein (IB) which regulates the activity of genes directly involved in cell differentiation and cancer development. So far, what they knew was that this protein is found in the cytoplasm and that it’s function is to inhibit NF-B complex ( which is implied in immune defense). Now researchers have found that another protein variant of IB resulting from binding to another molecule called Sumo (Sumo leading to the formation of protein-IB) is found in the nucleus of keratinocytes and fibroblasts.
Researchers made the discovery after analyzing 112 patients with urogenital skin squamous-cell carcinoma in different stages. What they observed was that in advanced cancers, IB disappeared from the nucleus, which could indicate that nuclear IB was lost or accumulated in the cytoplasm. This new function of protein IB involving cell nucleus could overturn the significance of other studies conducted so far. Agustí Toll, dermatologist at the Hospital del Mar and researcher at the IMIM, and one of the authors of this article, said that although this discovery must be confirmed by other research, this study shows that the presence of this protein in skin lesions could serve as a predictor and prognosis marker for squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, understanding the mechanisms controlling metastasis could improve treatment and prognosis of patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma.