Aging impacts therapeutic response of melanoma cells

Source: Medical Express, April 2016

Cancer risk increases with one’s age as accumulated damage to our cells and chronic inflammation occur over time. Now, an international team of scientists led by The Wistar Institute have shown that aged tumor cells in melanoma behave differently than younger tumor cells, according to study results published in the journal Nature.

Changes in the microenvironment make these older more metastatic and more resistant to treatment with targeted therapies. In light of these findings, the scientists demonstrated how antioxidants could serve as a better treatment strategy for older patients with melanoma.

“It’s fascinating to see that the microenvironment can have such a profound effect on both metastasis, and response to a therapy that is specifically targeted to a mutation in a gene. This tells us that no tumor is an island, and even therapies targeted against these driver mutations are affected by the way the tumor cell communicates with its microenvironment,” said lead author Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D., associate professor in the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program at Wistar.

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