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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

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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