A newly discovered cell linked to melanoma tumor growth may help researchers better develop future treatments, according to findings published in Nature.
During a recent study, researchers examined cell samples taken from the melanoma cancer, which provided more accurate results compared to cultured cells. During analysis, investigators found CD271, a compound located in more than 16 percent of all samples that made up to 41 percent of the tumors.
After finding this protein, researchers administered cells with high levels of CD271 into mice that were genetically-altered to have poor immune systems. The results of the transplant showed that the animals that had cell growth on the skin increased the risk of cancer by 70 percent.
“This could be the reason why we often see melanoma patients relapsing and coming back to the clinic,” said Alexander Boiko, a post-doctoral fellow from the Stanford University School of Medicine. He added that targeting cells containing CD271 may lead to “a combination therapy [that] might work to kill both types of cells in the tumor and, hopefully, prevent disease recurrence.
These findings may bring researchers closer to increasing the survival rate of those who have developed the disease. In 2006, more than 8,400 Americans died from melanoma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.