Breakthrough in Skin Cancer Detection

Researchers at Harvard have discovered a new biomarker for melanoma that could lead to new tests to detect it earlier and possibly even new treatments. What’s really cool is that it’s not a mutation in the genetic code itself, but the loss of a particular epigenetic marker–in this case 5-hmC (5-hydroxymethylcytosine). It’s great to have a new biomarker for this deadly disease, but it’s even better that this is an epigenetic one, since it’s really hard to change the DNA in the cells of a live animal. In fact the researchers also found, in their paper published in the Sept. 14th issue of Cell, that the downregulation of 2 enzymes was likely responsible for the loss of the 5-hmC epigenetic marker and that reintroducing those enzymes into mice with melanoma suppressed growth of the cancer and increased survival. That’s right – in a single paper, these scientists found a new way to test for melanoma and a potential new therapy for it.


Science FTW!