• Press Release

Mount Sinai Researchers Discover Epigenetic Reason for Drug Resistance in a Deadly Melanoma

Also Identify Potential Therapies to Prevent Drug Resistance

  • New York, NY
  • (August 24, 2018)

Mount Sinai researchers have discovered a previously unknown reason for drug resistance in a common subtype of melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of cancer, and in turn, have found a new therapy that could prevent or reverse drug resistance for melanoma patients with a particular gene mutation, according to a study published in Nature Communications.

The researchers identified a novel epigenetic mechanism that causes resistance to the standard treatment in melanoma patients with mutations in the BRAF genes, which are found in about half of all melanomas. Researchers also found a biomarker, or a biological signature that accompanies this drug resistance: a gene called IGFBP2, which is also associated with poor prognosis in melanoma patients.

Patients with high levels of IGFBP2 could benefit from combination therapies, which could be created in response to these findings, that inhibit BRAF mutations and IGFBP2-driven biological pathways as a multi-pronged approach to preventing drug resistance or reversing it once it has occurred, the study shows. Other studies show the potential to find IGFBP2 via urine samples so the implications for detection and later treatment are large.

“The incidence of cutaneous malignant melanoma is rising and its therapeutic management remains challenging,” said lead researcher Emily Bernstein, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncological Sciences and Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “In recent years, there has been extensive therapeutic development to inhibit key biological targets. Although a large proportion of patients with advanced metastatic melanoma harboring BRAF mutations respond to the standard therapy, known as MAPK inhibitors, subsequent resistance remains a major clinical challenge.”

This research was funded by La Roche-Posay North American Foundation, American Skin Association, Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance, and the U.S. Department of Defense.


About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai is a national and international source of unrivaled education, translational research and discovery, and collaborative clinical leadership ensuring that we deliver the highest quality care—from prevention to treatment of the most serious and complex human diseases. The Health System includes more than 7,200 physicians and features a robust and continually expanding network of multispecialty services, including more than 400 ambulatory practice locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of the Top 20 Best Hospitals in the country and the Icahn School of Medicine as one of the Top 20 Best Medical Schools in country. Mount Sinai Health System hospitals are consistently ranked regionally by specialty and our physicians in the top 1% of all physicians nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

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