Expert Rhoda Alani Here is some good news for patients suffering from melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. BUSM researchers claim to have found a potential new biomarker and therapeutic target for melanoma. The new cell screening method employed in this investigation sheds light on the apparent process behind tumor metastasis and helps in detecting biomarkers for other aggressive cancers.

In the current investigation, scientists have analyzed the process through which melanoma cells communicate with blood vessel cells and promote the formation of tube-like conduits. These tube-like conduits probably pave way for tumor metastasis. Molecules appearing vital for this communication process were observed with the help of microfluidics technology. It was mentioned that the molecule Neuropilin-2 may be significantly involved in the process and silencing it can hamper cancer cell growth.

“We found that Neuropilin is an important mediator of melanoma cell and blood vessel cell interactions,” elucidated Rhoda Alani, MD, BUSM professor and Chair of Dermatology. “We can now investigate this molecule as a potential biomarker and melanoma treatment target. We can also use the unique methodology developed in these studies to evaluate cellular crosstalk between other tumor cell types and vessel cells. Such studies are likely to provide important insights into the metastatic process for other cancers.”

If experts are to be believed, then the cell-to-cell communication process is important for tumors metastasis. The research findings reportedly clarify this process in melanoma. It also offers novel factors that regulate cell communication for a variety of malignancies.

The research is published online in Cancer Research.