Most people who die from skin cancer died because their cancer has spread to the brain. Recent progress in treating patients whose cancer has spread to other organs has not kept pace for patients in whom skin cancer spread to the brain. At least part of the reason for this is likely because the environment in the brain is so different from other parts of the body. To address this urgent need for better treatments developed specifically for patients with skin cancer who then develop brain tumors, we looked for genes that might help cancer cells that spread from the skin to adapt so they can do well in the brain. We have identified a molecule that explain how it might help skin cancer cells to adapt to the brain. Already, we have encouraging evidence of how this molecule allows tumor cells to survive and grow inside the brain. Equally exciting is that there are already ways to block this gene function by taking a pill or injection, which will allow us to test if we can prevent or reverse the spread of skin cancer to the brain in our models, and eventually in patients. However, we first need to better understand exactly how important this process is in helping skin cancer cells to adapt to the brain microenvironment, and gather more information about how this gene seems to help skin cancer cells to invade the brain and adapt to a new environment.
Location: NYU Langone Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center - New York
Proposal: Novel Metabolic Adaptions as Targets in Melanoma Brain Metastasis