Latest Melanoma Brain Metastases Study May Lead to New Therapies and Uncover the Cause of the Tumor in the Brain


Although some immunotherapies have been shown to be effective in treating melanoma brain metastases, researchers have no idea why the tumor has spread to the brain. Now, thanks to an in-depth study of the cells inside melanoma brain metastases, researchers have unveiled details about the condition that could lead to the development of new therapies.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, and brain metastasis is a condition that occurs when cancer spreads from the original site to the brain. Brain metastases cause most cancer-related deaths, and most cases have been recorded with advanced melanoma.

In the study published in Cell, researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center began by sourcing frozen metastatic tumors from dozens of melanoma patients. “Such studies are typically performed on fresh brain samples, which are rare, severely limiting the number of tumors that can be analyzed. In contrast, we have many frozen melanoma samples in our tissue bank,” said study leader Benjamin Izar, MD, PhD and assistant professor of medicine at the university.

Izar added that the technique allows them to see the biology of the tumor and its microenvironment, helping them analyze tissue from untreated patients. After analyzing the genes of more than one million individual cells, the researchers noted that melanoma brain metastases were more chromosomally unstable than melanoma metastases in other parts of the body.

According to Johannes C. Melms, MD, postdoctoral molecular researcher at the Izar lab and one of the study’s first authors, the process of chromosomal instability triggers signaling pathways that ultimately facilitate cell spread and suppress the immune system. .

“Several experimental drugs that reduce chromosomal instability will soon be tested in humans. We now have a rationale to evaluate these drugs in patients with melanoma metastases to the brain,” Melms said.


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