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Researchers use zebrafish to identify new gene linked to melanoma
Date:4/5/2011

tumors with high levels of SETDB1.

The discovery that SETDB1 accelerates melanoma formation in zebrafish is important because SETDB1 appears to be frequently overexpressed in human melanomas. "SETDB1 is an enzyme, so it may be a good drug target," explains Dr. Houvras. In a second report from Dr. Zon's lab led by first author Dr. Richard White, researchers found that the combination of leflunomide, a drug used to treat arthritis, and a BRAF inhibitor in clinical development was effective in blocking the formation of stem cells in zebrafish that give rise to melanoma.

Dr. Houvras, who joined the faculty of Weill Cornell in January 2011, is a physician-scientist with a focus on cancer genetics. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He received his residency and fellowship training in internal medicine and hematology-oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both in Boston. He was an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and an assistant attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in hematology-oncology. Dr. Houvras has co-authored articles in Nature and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. His honors include a Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Houvras is the recipient of a mentored physician-scientist training award from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Houvras has set up a laboratory at Weill Cornell to expand on the research in zebrafish on SETDB1 and cancer. "People are surprised when I tell them I use zebrafish to do cancer research. It is still amazing to me that the same genes that cause cancer in humans also cause cancer in fish. The zebrafish is an amazing organism because we can do complex genetic studies, and the fish has many of the same organs and tissues that we have," Dr. Houvras says.

He explains that the zebrafish is becoming a popular me
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Contact: Andrew Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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