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Spain's latest cancer research: Genetic profiling and tailored treatment
10 February 2020 @ 13:22

SPANISH scientists have discovered a genetic material that prevents skin cancer cells from spreading and metastasising.

Although early-stage skin cancer is normally easily curable, this factor has, to a certain extent, reduced the sense of terror this type of tumour creates and is leading the public to be more complacent about taking precautions – but malignant melanoma which spreads is often fatal.

Researchers from Valencia University, Valencia's Hospital Clínico and the latter's health investigation centre INCLIVA joined scientists from New York's Langone Medical Center in the study which has been published in the prestigious magazine Cancer Cell.

The investigation focuses on circular RNA (Ribonucleic acid) – a macromolecule which, along with DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), lipids, proteins and carbohydrates, are essential for all known life forms.

RNA is normally a linear molecule, but some of these become circular in shape and, instead of producing proteins in the same way as linear RNA, the circular version forms part of complex regulatory systems of which the functions are still not entirely clear.

Laboratory staff carried out research with cultivated cells, animal models (mice), and samples of human melanoma, and found that the loss of circular RNA – known as CDR1as – is what leads to tissue invasion and metastasis in this type of skin cancer.

A noticeable relationship between low levels of CDR1as activity and limited patient survival was found.

Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer and its rapid spread to other organs and tissues is what usually causes death.

CDR1as activity is able to predict the likely behaviour of cancer cells and the patient's prognosis.

This is the first study to show that circular RNA can act as a brake on metastasis.

Researchers say it stops a known pro-cancer protein known as IGF2BP3 from developing.



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