Increased levels of a certain gene can help decrease melanoma cell growth, according to a study published in the American Journal of Pathology (2010 May;176(5):2520-9).

According to background information provided in the press release announcing the study, melanoma is one of the least common forms of skin cancer yet causes 75% of skin cancer deaths.

In the study led by Victor Tron, MD, head of pathology and molecular medicine at Queen’s University, researchers focused on MicroRNA 193b (miR-193b), a little-known gene found in DNA, discovered to be deficient in melanoma tumors. Through lab experiments with tissue samples, researchers reported that miR-193b played a role in the melanoma process.

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Results of the experiments revealed that adding miR-193b to melanoma cells led to lower levels of the protein cyclin D1 and decreased melanoma cell growth. “Our experiment was a bit of a fishing expedition in the beginning. We thought 193b might be important but the fact we got such a tremendous reaction – the melanoma really slowed down when we added 193b – was really startling,” said Dr. Tron. “This is the first step in a long road towards finding a melanoma cure.”