CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Metamark Genetics, Inc., a privately-held oncology-focused molecular diagnostics company, today announced results from a melanoma study published in Cancer Cell. The study describes the identification and functional characterization of proteins that confer metastatic and invasive properties to early stage primary melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer in humans. The studies were conducted in the laboratories of Metamark Scientific Founders Lynda Chin, M.D., and Ron DePinho, M.D., from the Belfer Institute for Applied Sciences and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and David Rimm, M.D., Ph.D. of Yale University.
"The findings from this study represent an important milestone in our efforts to predict whether or not an early melanoma lesion will eventually progress to metastatic and deadly disease," said Dr. Chin. "Moreover, since these proteins are functionally involved in the tumor progression, they are also potential drug target candidates."
Melanoma is a form a cancer that originates in pigment-forming cells, or melanocytes, and is most commonly found in the skin where it typically arises from moles. In the United States alone, there were 68,130 new cases of melanoma last year, and approximately 8,700 deaths from the disease.
Cancer Cell study investigators utilized a novel approach that involved integrating results from refined, genetically engineered mouse models with human cancer data and subsequent functional studies. The researchers were able to identify and validate six genes that are crucial for invasion and metastatic behavior of cutaneous melanomas.
"We believe that these findings significantly contribute to our molecular understanding of malignant melanoma with the potential to improve methods of defining prognosis and selection of optimal treatment strategies for patients with this disease," said Dr. Chin. "Our functional studies show that these proteins