Novel strategy using microRNA biomarkers can distinguish melanomas from nevi

Source: Eurek Alert!, October 2019

Philadelphia, September 30, 2019 – Melanoma is the least common but one of the most deadly skin cancers. It accounts for only about one percent of all cases globally, but the majority of skin cancer deaths. Accurate, timely and reliable diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma remains a significant challenge in dermatopathology. Investigators report in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, published by Elsevier, on a novel strategy for using microRNA (miRNA) biomarkers to detect melanoma cells in skin tumors even when the tumor contains predominantly benign cells.

“Although cutaneous melanoma is curable when detected early, the process of differentiating between malignant lesions and the more prevalent benign lesions, such as melanocytic nevi, is challenging,” explained lead investigator Robert L. Judson-Torres, PhD, formerly at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and currently with Huntsman Cancer Institute and Department of Dermatology at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA. “Discordance rates across dermatopathologists and care centers are high. Consequently, whether a patient is accurately diagnosed early can depend on where the patient lives.”

Molecular biomarkers such as miRNAs are potentially valuable candidate biomarkers for many conditions and diseases including the diagnosis of melanoma. However, while hundreds of miRNAs have been identified as differentially expressed in melanomas compared to benign melanocytic lesions, there has been limited consensus across studies, limiting their effective use.

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