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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011 Jul;135(7):860-9. doi: 10.1043/2009-0623-RAR1.1.

Molecular diagnostics in melanoma: current status and perspectives.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06302, USA.



In the current "molecular" era, the advent of technology, such as array-based platforms, systems biology, and genome-wide approaches, has made it possible to examine human cancers, including melanoma, for genetic mutations, deletions, amplification, differentially regulated genes, and epigenetic changes. Advancement in current technologies is such that one can now examine ribonucleic acid (RNA), deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and protein directly from the patient's own tumor.


To apply these new technologies in advancing molecular diagnostics in melanoma has historically suffered from a major obstacle, namely, the scarcity of fresh frozen, morphologically defined tumor banks, annotated with clinical information. Recently, some of the new platforms have advanced to permit utilization of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumor specimens as starting material.


This article reviews the latest technologies applied to FFPE melanoma sections, narrowing its focus on the utility of transcriptional profiling, especially for melastatin; comparative genomic hybridization; BRAF and NRAS mutational analysis; and micro ribonucleic acid profiling.


New molecular approaches are emerging and are likely to improve the classification of melanocytic neoplasms.

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