Study: Fat cells play key role in dangerous transformation of melanoma

Source: EurekAlert!, August 2019

Researchers at Tel Aviv University, led by Prof. Carmit Levy and Dr. Tamar Golan of the Department of Human Genetics and Biochemistry at TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine, have discovered that fat cells are involved in the transformation that melanoma cells undergo from cancer cells of limited growth in the epidermis to lethal metastatic cells attacking patients’ vital organs.

“We have answered a major question that has preoccupied scientists for years,” explains Prof. Levy. “What makes melanoma change form, turning aggressive and violent? Locked in the skin’s outer layer, the epidermis, melanoma is very treatable; it is still Stage 1, it has not penetrated the dermis to spread through blood vessels to other parts of the body and it can simply be removed without further damage.

“Melanoma turns fatal when it ‘wakes up,’ sending cancer cells to the dermis layer of skin, below the epidermis, and metastasizing in vital organs. Blocking the transformation of melanoma is one of the primary targets of cancer research today, and we now know fat cells are involved in this change.”

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