One of the most dangerous skin disease- Melanoma

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Melanoma is one of the deadliest type of skin cancer, causes the death of one person every 52 minutes, according to data from the Skin Cancer Foundation, and the number of diagnosed cases has been on the rise for the past three decades. Despite a range of therapies developed over the years, there is still no full remedy for this life-threatening disease.


Prior to its spread to other organs, a melanoma tumor sends out tiny vesicles containing molecules of micro RNA which induce morphological changes in the dermis in preparation for receiving and transporting the cancer cells. The threat of melanoma is not in the initial tumor that appears on the skin, but rather in its metastasis which is in the tumor cells sent off to colonize in vital organs like the brain, lungs, liver and bones.
A recent study by Researchers from the Tel Aviv University has unraveled how the cancer spreads to distant organs and proposes novel and effective methods for diagnosing and preventing this most deadly of skin cancers before the metastatic stage. In the ensuing study, the group was able to discover and block a central mechanism in the metastasis of melanoma. At the early stage of Melanoma, the cancer is unable to send off colonizing cancer cells because it has no access to blood vessels — the highways that carry the cells to other parts of the body. With no blood vessels present in the epidermis, the tumor first needs to contact the abundant blood vessels running through the dermis. It was found that even before the cancer itself invades the dermis, it sends out tiny vesicles containing molecules of microRNA, these induces the morphological changes in the dermis in preparation for receiving and transporting the cancer cells.

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Thus by blocking the vesicles, it might be possible to stop the disease altogether.
Having discovered the mechanism, the researchers proceeded to look for substances that could intervene and block the process in its earliest stages. Two such chemicals were discovered: one (SB202190) inhibits the delivery of the vesicles from the melanoma tumor to the dermis; and the other (U0126) prevents the morphological changes in the dermis even after the arrival of the vesicles. Both substances were tested successfully in the lab, and may serve as promising candidates for future drugs. In addition, the changes in the dermis, as well as the vesicles themselves, can be used as powerful indicators for early diagnosis of melanoma.
The study is an important step on the road to a full remedy for the deadliest skin cancer and there is hope that it will help turn melanoma into a nonthreatening, easily curable diseases.




Shani Dror et al; “Melanoma miRNA trafficking controls tumour primary niche formation”; Nature Cell Biology Journal, doi:10.1038/ncb3399, published online 22nd August 2016.

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