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August 23, 2016 10:14 am

Tel Aviv Scientists Make Dramatic ‘Breakthrough’ in Skin-Cancer Research

avatar by JNS.org

A 3D structure of a melanoma cell. Photo: Sriram Subramaniam/National Cancer Institute (NCI) via Wikimedia Commons.

A 3D structure of a melanoma cell. Photo: Sriram Subramaniam/National Cancer Institute (NCI) via Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Researchers have discovered how melanoma spreads through the body, a “breakthrough” they hope will lead to cancer becoming nonthreatening and easily curable, according to a new Tel Aviv University study done in cooperation with the German Cancer Research Center.

Melanoma is an aggressive cancer that kills one person every 52 minutes, according to the international Skin Cancer Foundation.

Scientists found that before spreading, melanoma tumors send out small vesicles with molecules that trigger structural changes in the skin. In this way, the skin is prepared for receiving cancer cells and transporting them further. The scientists also found chemical substances that can stop the process, which raises hope that cancer-treating drugs could be developed.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Nature Cell Biology.

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“The threat of melanoma is not in the initial tumor that appears on the skin, but rather in its metastasis, cancer cells sent off to colonize in vital organs like the brain, lungs, liver, and bones,” Dr. Carmit Levy, the lead researcher at the human molecular genetics and biochemistry department of TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine, told the Jerusalem Post.

Researchers are discovering how the cancer spreads to distant organs and found ways to halt the process before it metastasized, Levy said.

“Our study is an important step on the road to a full remedy for the deadliest skin cancer. We hope that our findings will help turn melanoma into a nonthreatening, easily curable disease,” she added.

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