Biomarker Test Shows Promise in Diagnoses

OncologyLive, March 2011, Volume 12, Issue 3

A biomarker test for DNA methylation identified 22 gene sites able to differentiate between melanoma and nonmelanoma lesions

A biomarker test for DNA methylation identified 22 gene sites able to differentiate between melanoma and nonmelanoma lesions, including 12 locations that were highly predictive of the disease, according to researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill.

The researchers, who described their study results in Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research online in January, tested whether DNA methylation profiling was possible on melanoma and mole tissue preserved in fixatives for pathological examination. The team also is seeking to develop a DNA-methylation test for melanoma tumor DNA in the bloodstream that could measure for disease activity.

"If this test can be developed, it opens the door to diagnose recurrence early and initiate treatment while tumors are more likely to respond to treatment. It would also give us another way to monitor patients for response to treatment and help us better optimize treatments for each patient,” said Nancy Thomas, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, in a press release.

Melanoma, which has been rising during the past 30 years, accounts for most skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.