Zebrafish may help explain how skin cancer spreads

May 26th, 2009 - 2:25 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 26 (ANI): Scientists claim that zebrafish can help explain how aggressive human skin cancer, melanoma, grows and spreads.

The pigmented cells in zebrafish helped scientists tease out how oncogenes that are know to contribute to cancer, influence the formation and regulation of melanoma.

Inside the cell, signals are delivered that direct the cell on whether to divide, migrate or even die. In cancer, cells divide, grow and migrate when they should not, therefore resulting in an aggressive disease that can spread throughout the body.

A key molecule in this signalling pathway is RAS, and mutations in it are known to lead to cancer.

During the study, the University of Manchester in England and the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland generated several zebrafish with changes in RAS or other RAS-regulated proteins to create a useful model that can be used to study and understand human melanoma.

The tumours created from the pigmented cells of zebrafish, known as melanocytes, are easy to see against their thin, light colored bodies.

The researchers say that these fish may be a useful experimental tool for human disease.

Many of the changes they made caused melanoma in the zebrafish, indicating that zebrafish respond similarly to changes in these signals as do humans.

The study is published in Disease Models & Mechanisms. (ANI)

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