Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Novel Epigenetic Markers Of Melanoma May Herald New Treatments For Patients

Date:
June 30, 2009
Source:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Summary:
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, diagnosed in more than 50,000 new patients in the United States annually. As incidences continue to rise, the race is on to find the genetic and cellular changes driving melanoma, and to devise new means of detection and treatment. In new a study, scientists have found new epigenetic markers that will help develop more effective treatment strategies to fight this disease.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, diagnosed in more than 50,000 new patients in the United States annually. While the rate of incidences continues to rise, survival rate has not improved and the race is on to find the genetic and cellular changes driving melanoma and to devise new means of detection and treatment. In a study published online in Genome Research, scientists have mapped chemical modifications of DNA in the melanoma genome, finding new markers that will help develop more effective treatment strategies to fight this disease.

In addition to mutations to the DNA code that can cause malignancies, epigenetic changes – alterations to the chemical modifications of DNA that regulate genes – are frequent in a number of diseases, including cancer. If the normal epigenetic patterns that regulate gene expression are disrupted, cellular functions can go awry and lead to disease.

In this work, researchers led by Drs. Ruth Halaban and Sherman Weissman of Yale University investigated genome-wide epigenetic changes, termed DNA methylation, in melanoma cells. "This is of particular importance in melanomas, because a major etiological factor is sun exposure," Halaban said, explaining that inflammation and reactive oxygen species caused by the sun can produce epigenetic changes and mutations. Halaban added that because DNA methylation can be reversed, it is an attractive target for cancer therapy.

The group surveyed DNA methylation at gene regulatory regions, known as promoters, in both normal melanocytes and melanoma cells. They found 76 promoters with altered methylation patterns in melanomas, most of these showing increased methylation compared to normal. Promoter methylation is correlated with repression of the downstream gene, and this finding is consistent with other research indicating that cancer cells are using DNA methylation to turn off genes that normally inhibit malignancy.

The team then focused on five genes in particular, three of which had not been implicated in melanoma until now. In clinical specimens, methylation of these promoters was predominantly detected in advanced-stage tumors, suggesting that these markers will be useful for monitoring tumor progression. Furthermore, they found that by treating melanoma cells with a drug called decitabine, an inhibitor of DNA methylation, these genes could be reactivated. Decitabine is effective in some patients suffering from cancers such as acute myeloid leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia, so the identification of these methylation markers is promising for new clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of treatment of melanoma with this drug.

Relapse of melanoma is extremely difficult to predict, and Halaban emphasized that inaccurate estimation of the malignant potential of lesions can have dire consequences for patients. However, the authors are hopeful that these epigenetic markers may provide a better method for determining the aggressiveness of the disease and for setting a course of treatment.

Halaban expects that by combining their method for finding methylation markers with the latest DNA sequencing technologies, researchers will be able to uncover genes where an interaction between genetic mutations and epigenetic changes play a role in the development of melanoma, and perhaps other cancers. With this information in hand, researchers can then devise even more effective strategies to combat the disease.

Scientists from Yale University (New Haven, CT) contributed to this study.

This work was supported by the SPORE in Skin Cancer grant from the National Cancer Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Koga Y, Pelizzola M, Cheng E, Krauthammer M, Sznol M, Ariyan S, Narayan D, Molinaro AM, Halaban R, Weissman SM. Genome-wide screen of promoter methylation identifies novel markers in melanoma. Genome Research, 2009; DOI: 10.1101/gr.091447.109

Cite This Page:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Novel Epigenetic Markers Of Melanoma May Herald New Treatments For Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629165601.htm>.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (2009, June 30). Novel Epigenetic Markers Of Melanoma May Herald New Treatments For Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629165601.htm
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Novel Epigenetic Markers Of Melanoma May Herald New Treatments For Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629165601.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
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