A fusion gene that causes skin cancer has been identified by a team of researchers, paving the way for new treatments.
Cutaneous angiosarcoma, is a form of skin cancer that commonly occurs on the scalp of the elderly people and can rapidly metastasize to the liver, lungs or lymph nodes.
Fusion genes are formed as a result of gene rearrangement or mutation. These genes have been reported in several types of malignant cancers, such as, leukemia, papillary glioneuronal tumors and a subset of non-small cell lung carcinomata.
The fusion gene was found in 9 out 25 sample of skin cancer patients. The researchers found that those with the gene experienced a significantly shorter duration between the onset of symptoms and their first visit to the hospital, suggesting rapid tumor progression.
Cells with the fusion gene were subcutaneously implanted into immunodeficient mice to study the effects of the gene.
After five weeks, the implants were removed and found to have induced tumor formation similar to that of human angiosarcoma. The reduction in the gene in angiosarcoma cells corresponded to decreased cell number.
The findings has potential implications for new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for skin cancer research, said lead researcher Masatoshi Jinnin.
The study appears in Cancer Research.