Engineered Skin Offers Clues To Melanoma Development

When it comes to the deadly skin cancer melanoma, studying functional tissue rather than cell lines may better provide insight into the disease's development, according to new research from a Howard Hughes Medical Institute predoctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine. Though multiple genetic alterations are associated with melanoma development, scientists have not been able to establish a direct causal link between these alterations and human cancer growth. Determining whether these mutations have the potential themselves to induce cancer or simply play a supporting role also has been difficult. To determine the impact of genetic alterations associated with human melanoma, Yakov Chudnovsky; his advisor, Paul Khavari; postdoctoral fellow Amy Adams, and colleagues generated human skin tissue containing cells selectively engineered to express specific mutations found in melanoma. They report their findings in the June 12, 2005, issue of the journal Nature Genetics, offering clues to the oncogenic potency of several genes implicated in the development of melanoma.

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