Discovery of differences between skin cancer cells


Researchers from the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) and the University of Leuven (KULeuven) have discovered how certain cancer cells become more aggressive in people with a melanoma.

Scientists in Leuven have managed to map the genetic regulation that makes certain skin cancer cells more invasive. To achieve this, they methodically analysed the activity of nearly 40,000 individual melanoma cells from ten different patients. Thanks to an emerging biological analysis technology called Single Cell, researchers have been able to study the specific properties of each of these cells at a high throughput rate and thus pinpoint the differences between them in minute detail.

As Jasper Wouters, a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Stein Aerts' team, explained, "Melanoma cells can easily switch from a state in which they mainly develop to another state, in which they become invasive and spread more easily."

This greater understanding of the development of cancer cells is raising great hopes in the scientific community.  Researchers now need to understand the biological mechanisms that lead to these dynamic changes in cancer cells. And hopefully, this will lead to more effective treatments for various forms of cancer.