Melanoma begins with a tumour in the skin. In the early stage, it is confined to the upper layers of the skin.
The cells of the tumour expand outwards or down into the lower layers. If left untreated it will grow very quickly. These cells can then spread through the body into the tissue, blood or lymph nodes. Then settle into organs and grow new tumours, this is known as metastasis.
What is happening in the image?
In this image, a 3D melanoma spheroid has been treated with a drug. The halo of red cells around the outside the green cells have been killed, this is preventing it from spreading out into its environment or metastasising.
At the Centenary Institute, we are testing drug compounds that may prevent metastasis. By targeting mechanisms such as epigenetic regulators used by melanoma cells.
Learn more about our research into melanoma.
What is treatment resistance in melanoma?
Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer, the melanoma cells can evolve rapidly and become resistant to treatment.
While the development of new immunotherapies and targeted treatments has provided hope for many people living with advanced melanoma. Up to 50% of patients either do not respond to traditional interventions, or find that treatment only works for a limited time before the cancer returns.
New research approach for treatment of melanoma resistance
Dr Jessamy Tiffen, Head of the Epigenetics of Melanoma Program, is focused on fighting melanoma treatment resistance. If successful, her research will lead to the development of new drugs and interventions for melanoma patients with no options left.
At the Centenary Institute, she has developed a unique research program to understand how epigenetic regulators can drive cancer progression, immune evasion and response to therapy, with a specific focus on melanoma. If successful, this cutting-edge research could lead to the development of new treatments for people living with melanoma.
While a wide range of environmental and lifestyle factors (such as diet, exercise, ageing and pollutants) can influence which genes are switched on and off across a person’s lifetime, research has shown that in certain diseases – like melanoma – some genes will be abnormally switched away from a healthy state into the opposite, unhealthy state known as dysregulation.
Yet, while we have made great progress towards unlocking the complex mechanisms behind disease, there is still much we don’t know.