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Gene Responsible For Melanoma Discovered And Successfully Inhibited By University of Zurich Researchers

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Gene Responsible For Melanoma Discovered And Successfully Inhibited By University of Zurich Researchers

Researchers at the University of Zurich identified cancer stem cells as a new target in treating an aggressive form of skin cancer – malignant melanoma.

A team of stem-cell researchers from the University of Zurich was able to inhibit gene Sox 10 and thus prevent tumor growth and proliferation. Sox 10 gene is the gene that coordinates embryonic development and the fate of cell. According to latest research, a tumor is formed by a group of malignant stem cells and other less aggressive cells. Cancer stem cells are similar to normal stem cells except that these malignant cells are tumorigenic,  and lead to uncontrolled cell proliferation. In addition, they self-renew and differentiate in numerous cell types. These cells persist in tumors as distinct populations, which explains the process of metastasis and tumor recurrence.

Discussions on the idea that stem cells start tumors are still under debate. It is not  yet clear whether tumors derive from stem cells that have lost the property to proliferate or from cells that have acquired the capacity to regenerate. In addition, within a malignant tumor cells exhibit numerous abnormalities of structure. We already know that cancer cells present alterations in the nucleus,  the amount of cytoplasm is decreased, cells change their shape and function and so on.

Malignant Melanoma

Malignant Melanoma

Therefore, researchers at the University of Zurich have thought that by inhibiting cells that coordinate the entire cell growth (ie cancer stem cells) can stop tumor growth. During the study of several biopsies taken from patients with melanoma, the researchers found that one gene is highly active, that is Sox-10 gene, responsible for stem cell survival and cell division. Subsequently, researchers have tried to inhibit melanoma growth in mice by inhibiting Sox 10. And the result was positive. Future studies will confirm whether this finding applies to humans.

Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that develops from melanocytes, cells responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives skin color. It is responsible for 75% of deaths caused by skin cancers.  One important risk factor is ultraviolet radiation. Therefore the most common localizations of melanoma are back-in men, and legs-i women. Ultraviolet radiation alters the DNA of cells with the appearance of mutations. If the mutation affects protooncogenes or tumor suppressor genes, such as p53 gene (also called “genome guardian”), the cells begin to divide uncontrollably, leading to cancer. Currently, treatment of melanoma consists os tumor resection and adjuvant therapy such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy.