Protein may halt melanoma cell growth

Mar 04, 2008, 5:00am

Chevy Chase, Md. - Researchers here have discovered a protein that appears to halt the growth of melanoma, according to a report from CBC News.

Chevy Chase, Md. - Researchers here have discovered a protein that appears to halt the growth of melanoma, according to a report from CBC News.

In an effort to determine what makes ordinary moles different from melanomas on a genetic level, researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute discovered a series of genes, along with a genetically secreted protein, that they say seem to play a key role in stopping melanoma cell growth.

The study notes the BRAF oncogene regulates melanocyte development into melanoma cancer through the support of other genes. If BRAF’s regulation mechanism is blocked, cancer occurs.

Researchers identified 17 genes that were needed by the BRAF protein to cause cell suicide. Investigators also discovered a secreted protein, an insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7 (IGFBP7), which appears to be released when a melanocyte begins expressing BRAF. The protein appears to cause the cancer cell to become inactive or even die.

When the researchers exposed melanoma cells to IGFBP7 in the lab, the cells died. When IGFBP7 was administered to mice with melanoma tumors, the tumors stopped growing.

The study appears in the Feb. 8 issue of the journal Cell.