Stopping the Spread of Melanoma with Children’s Health

A new method for melanoma treatment may have been found by researchers at Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, as the group learns more about why certain melanoma cells are more likely to spread throughout the body and progress into the deadly stages of cancer.

“In prior studies we found there are intrinsic differences among melanomas in their ability to metastasize or spread. Some are efficient metastasizers that readily form distant tumors whether you take them out surgically or not, while others are inefficient metastasizers that spread more slowly and that can be cured through surgery,” said Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of CRI and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator via release.

Cancer cells can spread to other organs or systems, but most cells die when they try to metastasize from the primary tumor to another part of the body. The research found that the cancer cells that are able to spread use more lactate than other cancer cells, and the lab inhibited the lactate from being transported between cancer cells, reducing the spread of the cancer.

The hope is that the inhibitors used could be given to patients before the spread of the cancer and prevent tumors from growing in other areas of the body, which makes the cancer more deadly.

“Efficient metastasizers are able to take up more lactate, which allows them to increase their production of antioxidants that help them to survive in the blood,” said Dr. Alpaslan Tasdogan, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in the Morrison lab via release. “The findings in our paper, along with those made previously by the DeBerardinis lab, strongly suggest that increased lactate uptake by cancer cells promotes disease progression. This correlates with clinical data showing that patients with higher levels of MCT1 in their cancers have worse outcomes.”

The study was published in Nature. 


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