Researchers use CRISPR to build melanoma models from scratch using human cells

Source: Medical Xpress, April 2022

By introducing cancer-causing mutations into healthy skin cells step-by-step, Broad scientists have created models of skin cancer that can reveal the effects of mutations.

Over the last two decades, researchers have discovered thousands of genetic mutations in cancer, but understanding how they affect the growth and spread of tumors in the body remains challenging because each patient’s tumor can have many different mutations.

Now, scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system to build cell models of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer. In Science, the team describes how they installed five melanoma mutations, one-by-one and in different combinations, in the genome of healthy human skin cells. The edited cells grew and multiplied to become tumors that showed hallmarks of melanoma, including rapid growth, heightened ability to invade other tissues, the activation of certain gene programs, and specific pigmentation patterns.