Melanoma Spreading Protein Identified

Scientists have identified a protein which controls the spread of melanoma from the skin to other organs. Labelled MIDKINE, the protein plays a key role in promoting metastasis, the spread of cancer from one area of the body to another.

Working with mice genetically modified to develop human skin cancers, scientists found that the MIDKINE protein is secreted by melanoma tumours and travels to different parts of the body to kickstart cancer formation elsewhere.

Blocking the protein may be an effective treatment for the spread of melanoma, according to findings published in Nature. Patient prognosis is poor once the cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, so early detection is important.

In human studies, high levels of MIDKINE in cancer patients’ lymph nodes were predictive of “significantly worse” outcomes, even if patients had no tumour cells in their lymph nodes.

It was previously thought that melanoma utilises the lymph nodes to spread around the body, but removing lymph nodes from cancer patients does not prevent metastases. There was “something missing” in our understanding of the spreading process, the researchers said.

The new study offers a possible answer. When MIDKINE was inhibited in mouse tumours, metastasis was blocked as well. It is not known whether the protein is transported in the blood, in lymph, or both.

The researchers concluded that their work, “might open a door to diagnostic and therapeutic strategies that aim to deal with metastases before they have a chance to arise.”



(29 June 2017) Scientists find protein that regulates skin cancer spread. Nine News.

Learn more about skin cancer medicine in primary care at the next Skin Cancer Certificate Courses:

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2 comments on “Melanoma Spreading Protein Identified

  1. Oh that indeed is a very interesting study. Another study found some time ago that midkine inhibition suppresses prostate cancer stem cell growth and migration:

    If a drug could be developed that stops metastasis, then that could become standard of care in any cancer treatments, either as the main drug or as part of a combinational treatment. It would certainly be a breakthrough.

  2. An Australian Biotech ‘Cellmid’ has already developed humanised Midkine antibodies.
    The science is looking like the future approach to stopping cancer metastasis.