The UCLA team, led by Dr. Thomas Graeber, analyzed the gene expressions of melanoma cells and compared them to information in public genetics databases to identify the four different subtypes of melanoma with different drug sensitivities. The team organized the melanoma cells according to characteristic patterns of genes they had turned on. Comparing the gene expression patterns to data from stem cells induced to differentiate to melanocytes, they discovered that melanomas can be found in four different differentiation states.
“This refined characterization improves our understanding of the progressive changes that occur in melanoma cells during dedifferentiation, which can help develop better strategies to target this form of therapy resistance,” said Jennifer Tsoi, who was a member of the research team as a UCLA graduate student and now is a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA.
The investigators then searched pharmacogenomics databases for compounds that could best be used to treat melanomas characterized by the dedifferentiation expression pattern, either individually or in combination with other drugs.
See the full UCLA RESEARCH ALERT at: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/differentiation-melanoma-treatment-graeber-tsoi