Melanoma, as with most other cancers, is life-threatening when metastasis occurs. In a new investigation focusing on decisive epigenetic changes that may trigger or take place in metastasis, an international team led by Manel Esteller, a Spanish epigeneticist, compared the DNA methylation patterns of primary and metastatic melanoma cells.
They discovered that the gene of a particular protein (TBC1D16) in metastases is significantly less inactivated by methylation compared to non-metastatic cancer cells. In addition, they found that the level of methylation is related to a crucial metastasis switch. Specifically, this switch involves this protein to regulate the production of epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), which are often involved in metastases. It aggravates the growth and propensity of tumours, and its reactivation worsens the prognosis in patients.
The researchers anticipate the discovery of new drugs that inhibit epidermal growth factor receptors and the adoption of epigenetic diagnostics. In the future, it will be possible to determine the degree of methylation at the TBC1D16 gene and potentially treat the patients with low levels of methylation.
Source: http://www.newsletter-epigenetik.de/Read more