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New strategy developed to diagnose melanoma
Date:3/30/2009

ent levels in malignant melanomas compared to benign moles. They narrowed their study down to five genes that all showed higher levels of activity in melanomas than in moles and could be studied with standard antibody techniques.

Focusing on the proteins produced by the five genes, they stained the proteins with antibodies to assess the level of gene expression in mole and melanoma tissues. The new diagnostic technique distinguished moles from melanomas by differences in both the level and the pattern of activity of the five proteins.

To develop and test the diagnostic technique, the researchers examined levels of the five biomarkers in 693 previously diagnosed tissue samples. To ensure that the diagnosis based on tissue examination had been correct, all samples were reviewed by the study's pathologist. They analyzed the samples with the new procedure and found that the increased protein production by the melanomas compared with the moles was statistically significant, and thus a reliable diagnostic indicator. Unexpectedly, the proteins also showed different patterns of activity in the two types of tissue, yielding a second, even more discriminating diagnostic indicator.

"We hoped for clear diagnostic differences in the intensity of gene expression," Kashani-Sabet said. "We found what we had hoped for, but then we got a bonus. The pattern of protein activity from the top to the bottom of the tissue was strikingly different between the benign and the malignant tissue, providing an additional trait valuable for diagnosis."

Although some of the genes and their proteins were stronger indicators than others, the research team found that the combination of all five achieved the highest diagnostic accuracy. The multi-biomarker diagnostic correctly diagnosed 95 percent of the benign moles -- a measure known as specificity. The accuracy rate was 91 percent for diagnosing malignant melanomas the sensitivity rate. In addition,
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Contact: Susan Cohen
scohen@pubaff.ucsf.edu
415-476-2557
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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