Tracking cancer's signaling pathways

May 23, 2017, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Malignant melanoma is one of the most common and dangerous types of cancer. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) investigated how and why brown pigmented moles turn into malignant melanoma using innovative robot technology. The insights gained can simplify methods of diagnosis in the future; furthermore, they suggest that certain cosmetic products and creams should be avoided.

Until now, researchers only knew which were responsible for triggering the transformation of benign pigmented moles into malignant tumours. But little was known about what happens to proteins and signalling pathways when a malignant develops. The research group led by Prof. Dr. Andreas Baur at FAU's Translational Research Center (TRC) have now discovered that the ADAM10 signalling pathway is activated during the transformation. This pathway is a that passes the signal from one protein to the next, similar to chasing LED lights. This chain is normally inactive in healthy skin and is only activated in an immune response. It is known for its role in psoriasis, rosacea (a type of facial rash) and inflammation, i.e. when the immune system is activated but is also key in the development of malignant melanoma.

FAU researchers were able to demonstrate the significance of the ADAM10 signalling pathway with regard to the development of melanoma using a new kind of robot. The robot makes it possible to investigate development processes in skin samples at a cellular level. It uses anti-bodies marked with fluorochrome to stain tissue cell proteins. A camera takes a photo of the tissue samples. The fluorochrome is then bleached to destroy it, rendering the anti-body invisible. The robot applies another anti-body and the process is repeated. This method produces a sequence of different images of the same tissue sample that can be superimposed to reveal which proteins are active in which cells and where. Prior to the new technology, only one to four markers could be stained; the robot can now stain more than 100 proteins.

The insights gained will enable a better diagnosis of malignant melanoma in the future. 'This is especially important in borderline cases where it is difficult to make a clear decision whether a tumour is benign or malignant', says Baur. In the long term, the findings will enable a simplified, automated diagnosis of using staining robots. Additionally, the research suggests that and sun screen containing aluminium should be avoided, as aluminium ions can non-specifically activate the ADAM10 signalling that leads to melanoma.

The research results were published as a feature article in a special cancer edition of Science Signaling 10 in March 2017: "Multiepitope tissue analysis reveals SPPL3-mediated ADAM10 activation as a key step in the transformation of melanocytes".

Explore further: A new unexpected key player in melanoma development identified

More information: Christian Ostalecki et al, Multiepitope tissue analysis reveals SPPL3-mediated ADAM10 activation as a key step in the transformation of melanocytes, Science Signaling (2017). DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aai8288

Related Stories

A new unexpected key player in melanoma development identified

May 3, 2017
Identification and functional validation of proteins involved in tumorigenesis are essential steps toward advancing cancer precision medicine. In the Journal of Clinical Investigation researchers from VIB, KU Leuven (Belgium) ...

A method for the diagnosis and prognosis of melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer, is patented

February 19, 2014
UPV/EHU researchers have developed a method for the diagnosis and prognosis of cutaneous melanoma, the type of skin cancer with the highest mortality rate.This method will help not only in the more effective early detection ...

Keeping skin cancer in check—how the environment influences the tumor

January 24, 2017
Malignant melanoma is the fastest-growing type of cancer and the most fatal skin disease. Sandra Iden and her team at the Cluster of Excellence on Aging Research (CECAD) at the University of Cologne investigated the influence ...

Expression of specific gene differentiates moles from melanoma

November 21, 2016
Most melanomas are driven by mutations that spur out-of-control cell replication, while nevi (moles composed of non-cancerous cells at the skin surface) harboring the same mutations do not grow wildly. However, changes in ...

Inherited mutation doubles the risk of death from malignant melanoma

June 14, 2016
People with malignant melanoma with an inherited mutation in a certain gene are twice as likely to die of the disease, according to a new study carried out by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Lund University in Sweden. ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover new method of diagnosing cancer with malaria protein

August 17, 2018
In a spectacular new study, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have discovered a method of diagnosing a broad range of cancers at their early stages by utilising a particular malaria protein that sticks to cancer ...

Researchers find pathways that uncover insight into development of lung cancer

August 17, 2018
Lung cancer is the leading cause of preventable cancer death. A disease of complex origin, lung cancer is usually considered to result from effects of smoking and from multiple genetic variants. One of these genetic components, ...

Developing an on-off switch for breast cancer treatment

August 17, 2018
T-cells play an important role in the body's immune system, and one of their tasks is to find and destroy infection. However, T-cells struggle to identify solid, cancerous tumors in the body. A current cancer therapy is using ...

Pregnant? Eating broccoli sprouts may reduce child's chances of breast cancer later in life

August 16, 2018
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have found that a plant-based diet is more effective in preventing breast cancer later in life for the child if the mother consumed broccoli while pregnant. The 2018 ...

Three scientists share $500,000 prize for work on cancer therapy

August 15, 2018
Tumors once considered untreatable have disappeared and people previously given months to live are surviving for decades thanks to new therapies emerging from the work of three scientists chosen to receive a $500,000 medical ...

PARP inhibitor improves progression-free survival in patients with advanced breast cancers

August 15, 2018
In a randomized, Phase III trial led by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the PARP inhibitor talazoparib extended progression-free survival (PFS) and improved quality-of-life measures over ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.