Queen's University

Discovery may slow the growth of malignant melanoma

 
2010-07-08
Victor TronVictor Tron's research is published in the American Journal of Pathology.

A new discovery by Queen's pathology researchers shows that the growth of melanoma, one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer, can be slowed by a little known gene called MicroRNA 193b.

Victor Tron, head of pathology and molecular medicine,  discovered that miR-193b - a gene found in people's DNA - is deficient in melanoma tumors. The gene, unkown until 10 years ago has not been widely studied.

“Our experiment was a bit of a fishing expedition in the beginning," says Dr. Tron, who worked with eight other Queen’s researchers. 'We thought 193b might be important but the fact we got such a tremendous reaction – the melanoma really slowed down when we added 193b – was really startling. It’s a totally new discovery.”

In experiments, increased levels of miR-193b in melanoma cells led to lower levels of a well-known protein called cyclin D1, and decreased melanoma cell growth.

Further studies will be needed to find out what causes miR-193b levels to go up and down.

“This is the first step in a long road towards finding a melanoma cure,” says Dr. Tron, who also works at Kingston General Hospital.

Melanoma is one of the least common forms of skin cancer, yet causes 75 per cent of skin cancer deaths.

The study was recently published in the American Journal of Pathology. Pathology researchers Harriet Feilotter, Genevieve Pare, Xiao Zhang, Joshua Pemberton, Cherif Garady, Dulcie Lai and Xiaolong Yang and graduate student Jiamin Chen Harriet were also on the research team.

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