Scientists are excited about a possible breakthrough in cell growth which could result in new drugs for the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Cancer Research UK scientists based at the University of Manchester have discovered that certain melanoma cells are very fast growing, but lack the ability to invade the surrounding tissue. However, some melanoma cells are particularly invasive, but are slow-growing.
A tumour involves the combination of more invasive cells with faster growing cells and once these reach other parts of the body, it can result in a new tumour.
The researchers used transparent zebra fish to view the movement and growth of cancer cells from the original tumour.
Around 13300 people in Britain are diagnosed with melanoma, which is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
The author of the study, Dr Claudia Wellbrock, said that it was initially thought that cancer cells spread by first invading other parts of the body and changing to allow for rapid growth. However, this new research indicates that melanoma can be spread by ‘co-operative invasion’.
She said that there are different types of cells with varying weaknesses and strengths present in the tumour simultaneously and it is possible for them to work in unison to allow for quicker and more efficient spreading. This has huge implications for scientists to find cures for the disease.
The director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, Professor Richard Marais, said that malignant melanoma is regarded as the most deadly type of skin cancer because it spreads so rapidly and aggressively.
He said that an early diagnosis and detection of tumours before they start spreading are the most valuable tools in tackling the disease, as well as trying to find treatment methods.
He added that the type of research which was completed is important to determine the ways in which the disease spreads in the body and how it could possibly be curbed.
Image Credit: Scott Robinson