Overproduced protein tied to melanoma

September 11, 2012

A protein found on the surface of healthy skin cells could be linked to melanoma when overproduced, according to a new study.

London, Ontario - A protein found on the surface of healthy skin cells could be linked to melanoma when overproduced, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Western Ontario, focuses on Pannexin (Panx1), a channel-forming protein found on the surface of healthy skin cells. According to the study, Panx1 is found to be overproduced in melanoma - and when reduced, the cells become more normal.

“We think this overproduction of Panx1 enables the melanoma to become very aggressive,” co-author Dale Laird, Ph.D., a professor in the university’s department of anatomy and cell biology, said in a statement. “The cells have these extra Panx1 channels and they can leave the primary tumor and invade other tissues.

“When you find a protein that is highly upregulated in a disease cell such as a melanoma, the question becomes, is there therapeutic value in targeting a drug to that protein to reduce its production or block its function. Would that be an effective treatment?"

The researchers say they want to correlate their discovery to patient samples using the human melanoma bank at the London Health Sciences Centre. The study was published online Aug. 17 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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