Scientists Identify Melanoma Immunotherapy Targets

"Clinical Cancer Research"

A new study on potential immunotherapy targets for melanoma appeared in the American Association of Cancer Research’s medical journal, Clinical Cancer Research.

Welcome back to my melanoma blog. Today I want to focus on immunotherapy, which is defined as the treatment of disease by suppressing, enhancing, or inducing a response from the body’s immune system. In order to use this method for treating melanoma, physicians must be able to identify appropriate target antigens. According to a new study appearing in the American Association of Cancer Research’s Clinical Cancer Research, researchers might have identified seven potential candidate genes.

Researchers used a highly sensitive technology called NanoString to simultaneously measure multiple genes seen in higher quantities in tumor cells than normal cells. The NanoString works by isolating genetic material called RNA from tumor samples, allowing researchers to compare RNA levels in tumor samples with RNA levels in normal tissue samples. The researchers designed a NanoString probeset that contained 97 genes, including 72 considered possible candidate genes for immunotherapy. This technology profiled and analyzed five established melanoma cell lines, 59 resected metastatic melanoma tumors, and 31 normal tissue samples.

Of the 72 potential melanoma immunotherapy target genes, 33 were overexpressed in more than 20% of the melanoma tumor samples studied while ANOVA analysis found 20 genes differentially expressed between normal tissues and tumor samples. Finally, researchers analyzed normal tissue gene expression and identified seven genes with limited normal tissue expression that it recommends for further consideration as possible immunotherapy target antigens. These seven genes are CSAG2, MAGEA3, MAGEC2, IL13RA2, RAME, CSPG4, and SOX10. The first five genes mentioned belong to the cancer-testis gene family while the remaining two are melanoma-related genes.

According to Richard Morgan, PhD, who served as one of the study’s authors, further investigation is needed before immune cells engineered to target these markers can be used in patients.  Hopefully in time these immunotherapy agents can increase the number of patients eligible for adoptive immunotherapy.

Learn more about this study by viewing the research team’s press release:

Thanks for reading,

Sudhir Polisetty

To read articles specifically about melanoma, visit my WordPress blog.

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