Researchers Study Genetic Changes in Tumors of Recently Deceased Patients With Melanoma

Source: The Asco Post, May 2023

Researchers have found that studying the landscape of DNA and RNA alterations across multiple organs of metastasis may provide a new direction in cancer therapeutics to address treatment failure, according to a new study published by Liu et al in Nature Medicine. The new findings from analyzing genetic changes in the organs of recently deceased patients may help researchers understand how metastatic cutaneous melanoma spreads in those who had initially benefited from precision therapies.

“We hope to reconstruct, from the end of life, the lethal journey melanoma traverses across time and body sites,” explained senior study author Roger Lo, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, Associate Chief of Dermatology, and Director of the Dermatology STAR Residency Program at the University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine. “We need to know how many ways—even within the same patient—the cancer evades these powerful therapies, what underlying processes create ‘new species’ capable of escaping therapies, [and] whether the cancer co-opts different organs to help it spread and resist therapies,” he stressed.

Much of what researchers know about cancer and treatment comes from the first point of patient contact—when tumors are newly diagnosed, have not overtly spread in the body, and have not been treated either surgically or with systemic therapy. Much less is known about cancer in patients with metastatic, terminal disease.