• Press Release

Mount Sinai’s High-Resolution Imaging Allows Researchers to Identify How an Aggressive Skin Cancer Metastasizes

  • New York, NY
  • (July 11, 2017)

Researchers at The Tisch Cancer Institute of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai collaborated with scientists in Spain to show the mechanisms that cutaneous melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, activates early on to spark metastasis, according to a study published in Nature. The discovery could lead to early detection of particularly aggressive melanomas, as well as offer a potential target for melanoma treatment.

In this study, an international team led by the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) used a new mouse model, called “MetAlert,” in which mice emit light through bioluminescence when cancer causes a pathogenic activation of lymphatic vessels. Through highly sophisticated high-resolution intravital microscopy carried out at Mount Sinai, researchers detected the mechanisms that melanomas activate very early on to create their own pathways of dissemination, in part through the lymph vessels.

High-resolution intravital microscopy of lymph node metastasis to visualize lymphatic dissemination in real time was performed in The Intravital Core in the Microscopy Core at Mount Sinai led by Javier Bravo-Cordero, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine. Intravital microscopy is a live and real-time imaging technology that allows researchers to visualize the process of metastasis at the single cell level in affected organs, such as the lymph nodes.

“Intravital imaging technology is opening up new avenues in metastatis research. It allows us to study the process of metastasis at cellular resolution in a living animal,” said Dr. Bravo-Cordero. “These metastasis-visualization techniques are very powerful since they can be adapted to various types of cancer, not only to melanoma, in order to answer fundamental questions in cancer metastasis.”

Mount Sinai’s intravital imaging technology also corroborated CNIO researchers’ finding that a protein called MIDKINE increased the risk of metastasis, making MIDKINE a potential target for therapies and an indicator of how aggressive a patient’s melanoma might be.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is in the "Honor Roll" of best hospitals in America, ranked No. 15 nationally in the 2016-2017 "Best Hospitals" issue of U.S. News & World Report. The Mount Sinai Hospital is also ranked as one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Geriatrics, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Ear, Nose & Throat, and is in the top 50 in four other specialties. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 10 nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report in "Best Children's Hospitals."

For more information, visit http://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.