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Melanoma: Cell Ringleaders Found

Cells That Spur Melanoma Growth May Make Good Treatment Targets, Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 16, 2008 -- Melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, may get nipped in the bud by targeting certain cells.

Those findings could lead to new melanoma treatments, say researchers, including Tobias Schatton, PharmD, of the Transplantation Research Center of Children's Hospital Boston and Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston.

The researchers found certain cells that spur aggressive melanoma growth and resist chemotherapy. Targeting those cells with antibodies curbed melanoma in lab tests on mice.

The antibody treatment isn't ready for use in people yet. But the lab tests are "a significant step" toward new melanoma therapies, Schatton's team writes in tomorrow's edition of Nature.

The researchers also call for more studies to see if the same cells, or cells like them, launch other types of cancer.

Meanwhile, early detection matters. The National Cancer Institute lists these possible signs of melanoma:

  • A mole that changes in size, shape, or color
  • A mole that has irregular edges or borders
  • A multicolored mole
  • An asymmetrical mole (if the mole is divided in half, the two halves are different in size or shape)
  • An itchy mole
  • A mole that oozes, bleeds, or is ulcerated (has a hole that shows underlying tissue)
  • Change in pigmented (colored) skin
  • Satellite moles (new moles that grow near an existing mole)

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