Researchers discovered four subtypes of melanoma based on their stages of differentiation, according to a study conducted on April 12, 2018.
The cell subtypes that were reverted back to a less mature cell showed sensitivity to a type of self-inflicted cell death called ferroptosis. The study also showed that treatment of few subtypes of melanoma cells can be done using cancer therapies along with ferroptosis-inducing drugs. This type of skin cancer occurs from melanocytes, which are cells that produce pigments. Although targeted therapies and a greater understanding of cancer immunology have significantly improved survival, many patients either relapse or do not respond to treatment.
Gene expression of melanoma cells were analyzed by the researchers and further, compared them to the information from public genetic databases for the identification of four different subtypes of melanoma with different drug sensitivities. According to the characteristic patterns of genes turned on by the cells, the melanoma cells were organized by the team. By comparing the gene expression patterns to data from stem cells induced to differentiate into melanocytes, the four subtypes of melanomas was discovered.
Jennifer Tsoi, postdoctoral fellow at UCLA said, “This refined characterization improves our understanding of the progressive changes that occur in melanoma cells during dedifferentiation, which can help develop better strategies to target this form of therapy resistance.”
In this study, a new area of therapeutic possibilities for melanoma was discovered by the researchers by finding a link between ferroptosis and melanoma differentiation states. The therapies that are available currently will be benefitted by this new approach for targeting dedifferentiated melanomas.