A milimeter too far

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A millimetre too far: Discuss metastatic melanoma (skin cancer) with particular reference to the genes involve.


In 2008 11,767 new cases of malignant melanoma was reported in the UK (UK, 2011) . Melanoma involves melanocytes of the skin which have a role in protecting the deeper layers of the skin from UV light emitted from the sun. Metastatic melanoma occurs when a primary tumour travels into the bloodstream and spreads to other body parts i.e. liver or lymph nodes. The survival rate for people with metastatic melanoma decreases the later the diagnosis and the bigger the spread (metastasis) of the cancer. Scientists have therefore investigated ways in which treatment for melanoma can be improved by diagnostic markers and by targeting the genes involved in the development of melanocytes; also the genes involved in uncontrolled proliferation as seen in metastatic melanoma.


Mutation of BRAF gene (a member of the RAF family of serine-theronine kinase (Gorden et al., 2003) has led to countless research on therapeutic treatments that target BRAF gene and inhibit its expression. Before melanoma gets to the metastatic stages there are a series of somatic mutations in melanocyte genes that leads to the transition from radial growth phase to vertical growth phase (Tan, 2012). Over activation of BRAF gene (somatic mutation) in melanoma leads to the uncontrolled proliferation and survival of melanoma cells via activation of the RAS/RAF/MAPK pathway (Gorden et al., 2003); the attachment of BRAF to RAS proteins activates the MAPK pathway involved in melanoma proliferation and the regulation of genes involved in the metastatic cascade. Recent studies showed that 92% of melanoma samples had a substitution (l...

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Tan, W. W. H., J.E.;Schulman, P. (2012, 29 Feb 2012). Malignant Melanoma Retrieved 15 March, 2012, from

Toh, B., Wang, X. J., Keeble, J., Sim, W. J., Khoo, K., Wong, W. C., . . . Abastado, J. P. (2011). Mesenchymal Transition and Dissemination of Cancer Cells Is Driven by Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells Infiltrating the Primary Tumor. Plos Biology, 9(9). doi: ARTN e1001162

DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001162

UK, C. r. (Producer). (2011, April 5). Skin cancer - UK incidence statistics. Retrieved from
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