Victor Tron, head of pathology and molecular medicine at Queen’s University, has discovered that the growth of melanoma – one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer – can be slowed by a little known gene called MicroRNA 193b.
This gene, which can be found in human DNA and unknown just 10 years ago, was found to be deficient in melanoma tumors.
“Our experiment was a bit of a fishing expedition in the beginning,” says Dr. Tron – who worked with eight other Queen’s researchers – described the beginnings of this research as a ‘bit of a fishing expedition’.
“We thought 193b might be important” he said, “but the fact we got such a tremendous reaction – the melanoma really slowed down when we added 193b – was really startling. It’s a totally new discovery.”
By increasing levels of miR-193b in melanoma cells, his experiments led to lower levels of a protein called cyclin D1 and decreased melanoma cell growth.
Dr. Tron, who also works at nearby Kingston General Hospital claimed in a University release:
“This is the first step in a long road towards finding a melanoma cure.”
Melanoma is one of the least common forms of skin cancer, yet causes 75 per cent of skin cancer deaths.