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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

New strategy to stop melanoma spread

Scientists from the Centenary Institute have developed a new therapeutic strategy that could potentially help the fight against advanced-stage melanoma.

In a study just released, the scientists were able to show that they could effectively reduce the migration and invasive properties of melanoma cells. This was achieved by successfully inhibiting the interaction between two proteins involved in intracellular trafficking (the process by which molecules cross the membranes of living cells).

The research is significant as metastasis–the process by which cancer moves to new areas of the body–is the leading cause of death in melanoma patients.

Published in the highly regarded Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the researchers first found that high expression of the protein melanophilin was indicative of poor prognosis in melanoma patients.

Employing human melanoma cell line models, the researchers were then able to demonstrate a significant reduction in the spread of cancer by blocking the ability of melanophilin to bind with the protein RAB27A (one of the critical regulators of intracellular transport).

“We have known for some time that the proteins melanophilin and RAB27A bind together and that this process could be crucial to help melanoma cells spread around the body,” said lead study author and Centenary Institute PhD researcher (Immune Imaging Program), Mr Dajiang Guo.

“By disrupting the binding of these two proteins with a recently developed blocking compound (BMD-20), we were able to successfully restrict the melanoma cell movement and invasion. What our findings suggest is that the development of new drugs that can specifically target melanophilin-RAB27A interactions are a promising target for advanced melanoma treatment,” he said.

Senior study author Dr Shweta Tikoo also from the Centenary Institute (Immune Imaging Program) notes that there is an unmet need for novel therapeutic strategies which can be developed as a standalone drug or as part of a combination therapeutic regimen in the battle against advanced melanoma.

“Melanoma has one of the highest mortality rates in the western world with the disease accounting for approximately 1,500 deaths in Australia every year. It is also the most common form of cancer affecting young Australians, those individuals aged from 15 to 39 years old,” she says.

Read the full media release here.

Read the publication in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology here.

House of Wellness – featuring Professor Peter Hersey

Professor Peter Hersey, Head of the Melanoma Oncology and Immunology Program at the Centenary Institute has been a guest on Macquarie Media’s ‘House of Wellness’ radio show.

The current focus of Professor Hersey’s research is to better understand the resistance of melanoma to new treatments.

On the show, Professor Hersey talked about the important need to protect ourselves against skin cancer by reducing sun exposure as we move into the summer months.

Click here to access the show and go to the 6.10 mark on the time code to hear from Professor Hersey.

Breakthrough in preventing the spread of melanoma

Researchers at the Centenary Institute in Sydney have led a study which has uncovered a brand-new target for melanoma metastasis; providing an improved understanding of how the cancer spreads and opening the door for more effective treatments.

Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of melanoma in the world. More than 14,000 new cases of melanoma are estimated to have occurred in 2018.[1] Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australians (aged 15-39), and it kills more young Australians than any other single cancer.

The primary cause of death in melanoma patients is metastasis – the process by which cancer spreads to other areas of the body. While there have been recent advances in targeted and immune-based treatments, advanced stage melanoma remains a clinical challenge with a particularly poor prognosis.

Scientists from the Centenary Institute, in collaboration with 11 other Australian research institutions, have identified a specific protein (called RAB27A) as a key driver of melanoma metastasis. This occurs via the secretion of pro-invasive exosomes; tiny bubble-like structures which are expelled from cells.

During the study, the researchers discovered that silencing the expression of RAB27A reduced a certain population of exosomes delivering pro-invasion messages, which led to reduced metastasis.

Lead author and PhD researcher in Centenary’s Immune Imaging Program, Dajiang Guo, says the discovery provides a new way through which researchers can better target and treat melanoma.

“From our findings, we propose RAB27A is a novel prognostic factor, which means it could provide clinicians with a new way to determine a melanoma patient’s future health outcome,” says Mr. Guo.

“We also believe it could provide a brand new therapeutic target for the prevention of metastasis, which would improve the efficacy of future treatments. This is significant because metastasis is the main cause of death in melanoma patients.”

 

View the full media release as a PDF.

Read the paper published in the International Journal of Cancer.

[1] The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cancer Compedium: information and trends by cancer type.

Boosting the human body’s fight against melanoma

Scientists at Centenary have uncovered a new pathway in the body which fights cancer; paving the way for the development of drugs that improve the prognosis of patients with melanoma and other types of cancer.

“Sadly, Australia has one of the highest rate of melanoma in the world, with more than 1800 Australians dying from the disease each year. Our research has improved our understanding of how the body mounts the anti-cancer immune response but has also opened up ways scientists can develop new therapies to target this cell type in melanoma,” says Stuart Cook of Centenary’s Skin Imaging and Inflammation laboratory, the lead author on the paper.

Read the full media release.

Celebrating Australian luminaries who have transformed melanoma treatment worldwide

The extraordinary contribution of Australia’s most distinguished clinicians and researchers in the field of melanoma including Centenary’s Professor Peter Hersey was recently celebrated at a symposium hosted by the Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA).

More than 350 clinicians and researchers gathered at The Ultimate Melanoma Masterclass in Sydney to learn from the five luminaries as well as hear a comprehensive review on the latest advances in research and clinical management of melanoma.

Read the full article here

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