Skin cancer, melanoma treatment could benefit from the results of a research conducted at Western University, Canada. The discovery made by Silvia Penuel and Dale Laird, was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Specifically, scientists found that skin cancer overexpressed a protein channel, Pannexin 1 (Panx1). Furthermore it seems that by reducing the number of these proteins, cells could return to normal. Laird, a Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and Canada Research Chair in Gap Junctions and Disease, believes that Panx 1 is involved in melanoma aggressiveness and metastatic capacity.
Researchers now consider conducting studies in collaboration with Dr. Muriel Brackstone and Other clinicians at the London Health Sciences Centre, in order to verify the therapeutic potential of this discovery. To test whether Panx1 is a marker of melanoma, researchers need to relate their research with biopsies taken from patients with melanoma.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer associated with a poor prognosis. Melanoma is derived from melanocytes, skin cells that contain melanocytes. Although this cancer occurs most commonly in the skin, it can also occur anywhere in the body where melanocytes are found. An important factor in developing melanoma is sun exposure. Although it is less often than other skin cancers, almost 80% of skin cancer related deaths are due to melanoma. Once the diagnosis of melanoma by histopathological examination, it must be removed surgically. Of course, treatment is determined depending on the particular cancer (cancer type, stage, metastasis) and the patient’s condition. Surgical excision should be performed in oncological safety limits, and may be followed by chemotherapy or other adjuvant therapy, immunotherapy, etc.. Another treatment option, radiation therapy, may be an alternative in some cases, such as after surgical resection or in patients with metastases (as palliative method).
Similar studies for finding new melanoma treatment options have been also performed in the past, when researchers tried to target different cancer characteristics. One of the therapeutic targets is B-Raf gene mutation. Inhibitors, such as vemurafenib, can cause tumor reduction in patients who have this mutation. Another alternative in terms of melanoma treatment is and gene therapy. Gene therapy involves the transfer of genes that encode T cell receptors (T cell receptor). Once genes have been transferred to T lymphocytes in patients with melanoma, these lymphocytes attack and destroy tumor cells.