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Protein targeted to stop melanoma tumor growth
Date:12/9/2010

Halting the growth of melanoma tumors by targeting the MIC-1 protein that promotes blood vessel development in tumors may lead to better treatment of this invasive and deadly cancer, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers in The Foreman Foundation Research Laboratory.

"Preventing vessels from developing in tumors is one way to stop them from growing," said lead author Gavin Robertson, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, pathology, dermatology and surgery. "However, the identity of the proteins secreted by tumors cells enabling the angiogenesis process to occur remains to be determined." Angiogenesis is the growth of new blood vessels from existing ones surrounding the growing tumor mass.

Tumors start as clusters of cells that transport nutrition and waste through cell walls as well as into and out of gaps between cells. This process is inefficient and provides poor nutrition to the cells in the interior of a growing tumor. As a result, the tumor mass cannot grow.

Tumor cells overcome this obstacle by secreting proteins that interact with blood vessels surrounding the tumor, causing formation of new vessels from these existing ones. The new vessels grow into the tumor to provide nutrition and remove waste. Angiogenesis leads to the formation of a fully functioning vascular structure that supplies the needed nutrition and removes cell waste, allowing tumors to grow.

By targeting the proteins that lead to angiogenesis, tumor growth can be halted. In the past, the protein VEGF was identified as a major factor in this process. However, targeting VEGF alone does not prevent tumor development in melanoma patients. The researchers looked for other proteins involved in angiogenesis and ultimately discovered MIC-1 as a regulator of this process.

The researchers reported in the American Journal of Pathology that MIC-1 is present in levels five to six times higher in 67 percent of melanoma patients compared to people without can
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Contact: Matt Solovey
msolovey@hmc.psu.edu
717-531-8606
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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