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Ups J Med Sci. 2012 May;117(2):237-43. doi: 10.3109/03009734.2012.658977. Epub 2012 Feb 16.

Narrowing the knowledge gaps for melanoma.

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  • 1The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Cutaneous melanoma originates from pigment producing melanocytes or their precursors and is considered the deadliest form of skin cancer. For the last 40 years, few treatment options were available for patients with late-stage melanoma. However, remarkable advances in the therapy field were made recently, leading to the approval of two new drugs, the mutant BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib and the immunostimulant ipilimumab. Although these drugs prolong patients' lives, neither drug cures the disease completely, emphasizing the need for improvements of current therapies. Our knowledge about the complex genetic and biological mechanisms leading to melanoma development has increased, but there are still gaps in our understanding of the early events of melanocyte transformation and disease progression. In this review, we present a summary of the main contributing factors leading to melanocyte transformation and discuss recent novel findings and technologies that will help answer some of the key biological melanoma questions and lay the groundwork for novel therapies.

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