This week, Medical News Today reported on a study conducted by Yale University. The study, which was reported in Nature Genetics, found a new mutation which seems to be common in melanoma. This mutation involves NF1, and follows only BRAF and NRAS mutations. For the study, the researchers analyzed mutations from over 200 melanoma samples using whole exome sequencing.
NF1 was found to be a “major player”. Author Michael Krauthammer noted that “…45% of melanomas that do not harbor the known BRAF or NRAS mutations display loss of NF1 function…”. This seems to lead to the very same cancer causing pathway as a BRAF or NRAS mutation.
The analysis also reveals that the NF1 mutation mostly arose in samples from older patients with more mutations in their tumors. These include mutations in genes that affect the same signaling pathway, known collectively as RASopathy genes. However, note the authors, while NF1 is the third most commonly mutated gene, on its own it does not cause cancer. A cluster of genetic changes, of which mutated NF1 is but one, is required to make a tumor.
Dr. Ruth Halaban concluded that the study identified about 100 changes in genes that present themselves in malignant cells. These are likely to cause cancer. This group of genes could now be applied to personalized cancer treatments, and allow precision medicine to diagnose lesions that are malignant. This study will further open the door for more research regarding anticancer drugs.
We at MoleSafe fully support such experiments. The more scientists learn about these tricky cancer cells, the better we will be able to target the root of the disease.
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