Paris – Scientists have pinpointed a cancer protein which controls the disease’s spread from the skin to other organs, and proposed Wednesday that blocking it may be an effective treatment.
Working with mice genetically engineered to develop human skin cancers, the team discovered that the protein plays a key role promoting — or inhibiting — metastasis, the spread of cancer from one area or organ to another.
Dubbed MIDKINE, the protein is secreted by melanomas — the most serious type of skin cancer — before travelling to a different part of the mouse body to kickstart cancer formation, they said.
In subsequent observations in humans, high levels of MIDKINE in the lymph nodes of skin cancer patients were predictive of “significantly worse” outcomes, the team reported in the science journal Nature.
This was the case even if there were no tumour cells in the lymph nodes.