Despite some immunotherapies proving effective in treating melanoma brain metastases, researchers are unclear about the reason behind the tumor spreading to the brain. Now, through a comprehensive study of cells inside melanoma brain metastases, researchers have uncovered details about the condition that could lead to the development of new treatments.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer and brain metastasis is a condition that occurs when cancer spreads from the original site to the brain. Brain metastasis is behind most cancer-related deaths and most cases have been recorded with advanced melanoma.
in study, . published in roomResearchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center began sourcing frozen metastatic tumors from dozens of melanoma patients. “Studies like these are typically performed on fresh brain samples, which are in short supply, significantly limiting the number of tumors that can be analysed. In contrast, we have many in our tissue bank. There are frozen melanoma samples,” said study leader Benjamin Izer, MD, PhD, and assistant professor of medicine at the university.
Izar said the technique allowed him to see the tumor’s biology and its microenvironment by helping it analyze tissues from patients who were not treated. After analyzing genes in more than 100,000 individual cells, the researchers noted that melanoma brain metastases were more chromosomally unstable than melanoma metastases in other parts of the body.
Johannes C. According to Meles, MD, a molecular postdoctoral fellow in the Izar lab and one of the study’s first authors, the chromosomal instability process triggers signaling pathways that facilitate the proliferation of cells and suppress the immune system.
“Several experimental drugs that reduce chromosomal instability are soon being tested in humans. We now have the rationale to evaluate these drugs in patients with melanoma metastases in the brain,” Meles said.