Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rutgers Researcher Discovers Melanoma Causing Gene

Date:
April 21, 2003
Source:
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey
Summary:
Rutgers Associate Professor Suzie Chen has discovered a gene responsible for melanoma, the most aggressive form of malignant skin cancer.

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers Associate Professor Suzie Chen has discovered a gene responsible for melanoma, the most aggressive form of malignant skin cancer. A paper describing the research by Chen and her colleagues at the National Human Genome Research Institute will be published online by Nature Genetics on April 21, and will appear subsequently in a print issue of the journal.

Melanoma may appear in places that never see sun, spread to other parts of the body and become lethal. This type of cancer is not generally responsive to chemotherapy. According to a report from the National Cancer Institute, in the United States the incidence rate of melanoma has more than doubled in the past 20 years.

Chen has been on the track of this gene since her 1995 arrival at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her research was conducted in the Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research at Rutgers' Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.

"I did not set out to do a melanoma study," said Chen. "All my life I have been interested in cell transformation and differentiation. In this case, I was investigating how a fat cell becomes a fat cell when I observed that one of the mice in my experiment developed pigmented tumors. Upon further characterization, these tumors were confirmed to be melanoma.

"After many years of work, we identified a gene that was involved in these skin abnormalities and went on to prove that it indeed causes melanoma in the mouse system," said Chen.

Surprisingly, the gene is not a known oncogene – one known to cause cancer – but one whose normal functions are in the brain.

Chen explained that the expression of a given gene, whether it is turned on or off, or when, is tightly regulated by many factors. "It is only in a melanocyte skin cell when the expression of this particular gene is turned on that it leads to the development of melanoma," said Chen. "While in the brain, where it is expressed normally, its functions are associated with learning and memory."

Chen and her collaborators took the next step in this scientific investigation using human biopsy tissues with various stages of melanoma. In more than one third of these human samples, they detected signs of the same aberrant gene expression seen in the laboratory animals that had melanoma. This confirmed that the gene involved in melanoma development in the mice is also implicated in some human melanomas. While there are typically many paths leading to cancer development, this is a breakthrough in pinpointing one of them that occurs in both animals and humans.

"We hope to use this knowledge we've gained to investigate better ways of treating the disease. Early detection is key in treating melanoma, but malignant melanoma does not normally respond well to conventional chemotherapy," said Chen. "We need to find more effective ways to treat the disease. The biggest problem we have is our inability to target the tumor cells. Most of the treatments available today affect normal cells, as well. With our understanding of at least one genetic factor in melanoma, we may now have the ability to design a new, more specific drug to target that gene or the protein it expresses," she concluded.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Rutgers Researcher Discovers Melanoma Causing Gene." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030421082757.htm>.
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. (2003, April 21). Rutgers Researcher Discovers Melanoma Causing Gene. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030421082757.htm
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Rutgers Researcher Discovers Melanoma Causing Gene." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030421082757.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins