Changes in the genetic make-up of tissue samples can be detected quickly and easily using a new method based on nanotechnology. This report researchers from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel in first clinical tests with genetic mutations in patients with malignant melanoma. The journal Nano Letters has published the study.
According to estimates by the American Skin Cancer Foundation, today more people develop skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer together. Although malignant melanoma accounts for only about 5 percent of skin cancers, these are the most serious cases and can result in death. Around half of all patients who develop malignant melanoma exhibit a particular genetic change (mutation). This involves a change in the BRAF gene (B gene for Rapid Acceleration of Fibrosarcoma) that leads to uncontrolled cell proliferation.
There are now drugs that exploit these specific mutations and fight the cancer, significantly extending patients’ life expectancy. However, they work only if the corresponding genetic mutation is actually present.