A team of Israeli scientists is optimistic that a new understanding of melanoma’s biology may help scientists create a vaccine to prevent this deadly form of skin cancer.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan conducted the study, which discovered that melanoma cancer cells spread by altering their environment, especially by forming new lymphatic veins in the dermis, the top layer of skin.
Melanoma and other types of skin cancer are frequently brought on by excessive UV exposure from the sun, tanning booths, or sunlamps.
Light natural skin tone, freckled or easily burned skin, and a family history of skin problems are risk factors.
The World Health Organization estimates that 325,000 new instances of melanoma were identified globally in 2020, and 57 000 people passed away as a result of the condition.
Melanoma begins with unchecked melanocyte cell division in the epidermis, the top layer of skin.
The cancer cells spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic and vascular systems during the second stage of the disease.
The density of lymph arteries in the skin around the melanoma was shown to dramatically increase in earlier studies—a process that was not fully understood by scientists until recently.
Prof. Carmit Levy of Tel Aviv University and Prof. Shoshana Greenberger of the Sheba Medical Center served as the team’s leaders.
Recent publication of their findings in the prestigious Journal of Investigative Dermatology
Understanding the process by which metastases spread via the lymphatic and blood systems can hopefully aid in the development of a vaccine against this deadly cancer because melanoma is not dangerous in the premetastatic stage—before the cells spread to other parts of the body.
Greenberger declared that skin-confined melanoma is not fatal.
Thus, immunotherapy is the most promising strategy for treating melanoma.
Our goal is to create a vaccine that prompts the immune system to fight melanosomes, particularly the lymphatic endothelial cells that these vesicles penetrate.
We can successfully slow the spread of the illness if we stop the processes that lead to metastases in lymph nodes.
We aim to develop a vaccine that stimulates the immune system to target melanosomes, specifically attacking the lymphatic endothelial cells invaded by these vesicles.
By halting the mechanisms that generate metastases in lymph nodes, we can effectively impede the disease’s progression, said Greenberger.
“Melanoma confined to the skin is not life-threatening.
What are these extracellular vesiculas called melanosomes and how do they impact their environment?
We examined this in human melanomas from the Pathology Institute and demonstrated that melanosomes can penetrate lymph vessels.
We showed for the first time that melanoma cells secrete these vesiculas in the first stage, in the epidermis.
Experts advise keeping in the shade, donning clothing that covers the arms and legs, and donning a wide-brimmed hat to shield the face, head, and neck from the sun.
Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and wraparound sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays are also recommended.