(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Cancer stem cells (CSCs) for human melanoma are attractive therapeutic targets, according to a team of researchers of the University of Colorado, Denver, CO. This conclusion is based on a study entitled “ALDH1A Isozymes are Markers of Human Melanoma Stem Cells and Potential Therapeutic Targets,” which was published in Stem Cells on August 7.

For a tumor, continuation of life (self-renewal) requires the existence of CSCs of a specific cancer type. In this study, the investigators aimed to determine the existence of CSCs for human melanoma. To meet their aim, they transplanted human cells into a mouse model and looked for the existence of human melanoma cells that “fulfill the criteria for CSCs (self-renewal and differentiation).”

The investigators reported that human melanoma CSCs express high levels of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity and, more importantly, “ALDH-positive melanoma cells are more tumorigenic than ALDH-negative cells.” Further analysis revealed an important role of ALDH in cellular function, as blocking expression of this molecule inhibited cell growth, induced programmed cell death (apoptosis), and reduced tumorigenesis in mice.

Continue Reading

When the investigators examined the genetic signatures of ALDH-positive CSCs from patient-derived tumor specimens, they found retinoic acid (RA)-driven target genes with RA response elements and genes associated with stem cell function.

Based on these findings, the investigators concluded that “ALDH isozymes are not only biomarkers of CSCs but also attractive therapeutic targets for human melanoma…further investigation of these isozymes and genes will enhance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing CSCs and reveal new molecular targets for therapeutic intervention of cancer.”