25 Jan Genetic Markers Help Individually Identify Melanoma Patients At Risk For Metastases
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Tomas Kirchhoff, PhD
Assistant Professor, Departments of Population Health and Environmental Medicine
NYU Langone Medical Center
Member, Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Kirchhoff: Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and the cause of approximately 80% of all skin cancer patients annually. One factor that can help reverse this negative trend is efficient prediction of which patients at early melanoma stage will likely progress to more advanced metastatic disease. Current clinical predictors of patient survival, based on tumor characteristics, are important, but are relatively non-specific to inform melanoma prognosis to an individual patient level. It is critical to identify other factors that can serve as more personalized markers of predicting the course of melanoma.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Dr. Kirchhoff: In our study, we found that inherited genetic markers that impact activity of certain immune genes correlate with melanoma survival. More specifically, our findings show that patients with more frequent forms of these genetic markers (genotypes) have, on average, a five-year shorter survival than patients with less common genotypes. We suggest that these genetic markers are independent of the current tumor surrogates and, as such, can serve as novel personalized markers of melanoma prognosis.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Kirchhoff: The applicability of our findings is two-fold.
- First, the incorporation of the two genetic markers discovered it in our study – along with general tumor surrogates — can significantly improve our ability to help individually identify patients at risk for more advanced and/or metastatic disease.
- Secondly, because we know that these genetic markers affect activity of immune genes, in the near future we can use this information to develop targeted therapies in patients at early stages but at high-risk of poor survival.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We are currently validating our findings in collaboration with large national and international consortia. This will be essential to test the broader clinical applicability of these genetic markers in patients from other melanoma populations. In addition. we continue with biological investigation of the two genetic markers in the context of immune pathways that are likely affected by the inherited genetic information. This will ultimately provide important understanding how these newly discovered targets impact immunity and modulate melanoma tumor development.
Tomas Kirchhoff, PhD (2016). Genetic Markers Help Individually Identify Melanoma Patients At Risk For Metastases