Monday, December 12, 2011

Yale scientists identify gene that causes spread of melanoma

An article in Yale News today describes how Yale Cancer Center researchers have identified a gene linked to the metastasis of melanoma. Scientists have long been in interested in understanding the process behind metastasis, which is responsible for the vast majority of melanoma-related deaths. The gene in question is known as CTNNB1, and it codes for the protein beta-catenin. Mutated beta-catenin has been observed in 5-10% of melanoma cases, but only with this study has an increase of the protein been linked to increased metastasis (and decreased beta-catenin linked to the near elimination of metastasis). Understanding metastasis has obvious implications for medicine, but more research is needed to fully understand the gene's role--the researchers of this study revealed that it is part of a network and very much affected by other mutations.

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