A research team from Mount Sinai have identified novel therapeutic targets for metastatic melanoma in a study published in Molecular Cell.
The study focused on a gene called AMIGO2 and its partner, called PTK7. Scientists' understanding of AMIGO2's role in cancer has been limited until now, but the researchers discovered that AMIGO2 and PTK7 are required for melanoma cells to grow and survive.
This research also identified a path forward to develop small molecule inhibitors or antibodies against AMIGO2 and PTK7, which are both found on the melanoma cell's membrane. Targeted therapies against PTK7 have already been successfully tested in phase 1 clinical trials for solid tumors, so the groundwork has already been laid in developing similar drugs for melanoma.
The researchers made their discoveries by studying BET proteins, which regulate gene expression in cancer, and their regulation of AMIGO2. When melanoma is growing, the amount of AMIGO2 increases; silencing its function significantly impairs melanoma's growth. In addition, AMIGO2 regulates PTK7 function and PTK7 is also required for melanoma cell survival, so targeting AMIGO2 and PTK7 would also disrupt melanoma's growth.
This study also discovered the potential to identify additional tumor-promoting genes and other therapeutic targets in melanoma by studying other BET target genes.