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New Research Provides Inroads Against Melanoma

Posted: August 17, 2009

Swiss researchers have discovered new information on a specific protein's function in the the Ras-signallig pathway's development of skin cancers such as melanoma.

Manuela Baccarini, professor for cell signalling at the Centre of Molecular Biology of the University of Vienna (Max F. Perutz Laboratories) and colleagues reveal the function of a protein in the Ras signalling pathway. Their findings provide the basis for research on novel therapeutic strategies in Ras-induced skin cancers, such as melanoma. The results of her work are published in the scientific journal Cancer Cell.

Ras is a protein that is a master regulator of several signalling cascades in cells, and has been demonstrated to be a proto-oncogene. If the protein is mutated or misregulated by outside influences, it contributes to the development of skin cancers such as melanoma.

Skin cancer develops from a progenitor skin cell population that expands unrestrictedly (proliferation) and does not migrate from the deeper skin layers (stratum basale) to the surface (stratum corneum) to differentiate into specialized skin cells or keratinocytes. In addition, compared to normal cells, tumor cells have also lost the ability to react to "cell suicide signals" (apoptosis).

Cell differentiation decisive for melanoma development