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J Dermatol Sci. 2001 May;26(1):1-13.

Recent advances in melanoma research.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Shinshu University School of Medicine, 3-1-1 Asahi, 390-8621, Matsumoto, Japan.


Recent advancement in the research of malignant melanoma is reviewed. Among many gene alterations detected in human melanoma, defect of CDKN2A located at chromosome 9p21 seems to be most important in the earlier developmental phase, though significance of this gene in the evolution of melanoma in situ has not been confirmed yet. Deletions of PTEN/MMAC1 on 10q23.3 and AIM1 on 6q21 as well as mutations of ras gene are involved in the later progression stages of melanoma. Adhesion molecules relevant to development and progression of melanoma have been intensely investigated in recent years, revealing crucial roles of cadherins and alpha(v)beta(3) integrin in the biologic behaviors of melanoma cells. Melanoma is characterized by extremely high potential of developing metastases. Dynamic changes of matrix metalloproteinase activity during invasion and movement of melanoma cells may be a major concern in this field. Fragility of blood vessels in melanoma lesions is another important point related to hematogeneous metastases. Acral lentiginous melanoma is a unique subtype of melanoma, because, in contrast to other subtypes, ultraviolet irradiation is not a major factor in its development. Investigation of pathogenesis of acral lentiginous melanoma surely provides us with new information about mechanism of melanocyte transformation. Recent advances in the management of malignant melanoma are also briefly reviewed, such as biochemotherapy, immunotherapy, and gene therapy. Finally, the concept of molecular classification of melanoma by gene expression profile is introduced, which possibly enables us to give the tailor-made therapy for each melanoma patient in the near future.

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