Researchers from the Centenary Institute at The University of Sydney in Australia have developed a new therapeutic strategy that could help patients with advanced-stage melanoma.
In a study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (Jan. 21, 2020), researchers found they could effectively reduce the migration and invasive properties of melanoma cells by inhibiting the interaction between two proteins involved in intracellular trafficking.
The discovery is significant since metastasis is the leading cause of death in melanoma patients, according to researchers.
The study's authors found that high expression of the protein melanophilin was indicative of poor prognosis in melanoma patients.
Using human melanoma cell line models, they were then able to demonstrate a significant reduction in the spread of cancer by blocking the ability of melanophilin to bind with the protein RAB27A—one of the critical regulators of intracellular transport.
"We have known for some time that the proteins melanophilin and RAB27A bind together and that this process could be crucial to help melanoma cells spread around the body," said Dajiang Guo, the study's lead author, in a press release. Guo is a PhD researcher in the immune imaging program at the Centenary Institute.
"By disrupting the binding of these two proteins with a recently developed blocking compound [BMD-20], we were able to successfully restrict the melanoma cell movement and invasion. What our findings suggest is that the development of new [treatment options] that can specifically target melanophilin-RAB27A interactions are a promising target for advanced melanoma treatment," Dr. Guo added.
According to Dr. Shweta Tikoo, the study's senior author, there is an unmet need for novel therapeutic strategies which can be developed as a standalone treatment or used as part of a combination therapeutic regimen in the battle against advanced melanoma.
"Although we have witnessed a surge in new treatment options for advanced melanoma patients, especially involving immunotherapy, issues such as limited effectiveness, drug resistance, and drug toxicity persist," said Dr. Tikoo.
"Understanding and targeting the actual mechanisms underpinning melanoma progression and invasion is, therefore, vital for the development of new treatment strategies. Our findings have the potential to make a real difference in our battle against this devastating disease."