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Institute of Anatomy

"Monitoring melanoma patients on treatment reveals a distinct macrophage population driving targeted therapy resistance"

Malignant melanoma affects the pigment cells (melanocytes) of the skin and is one of the most aggressive types of cancer that is often resistant to therapies. It is therefore crucial to systematically understand resistance in order to improve current treatments. Prof. Lukas Sommer's team has identified a mechanism impeding therapy effectiveness. The study compared resistant and non-resistant cancer cells and their micro-environment from patient biopsies on the single cell level. Increased POSTN levels were associated with a higher number of cancer-promoting macrophages (a subtype of immune cells). POSTN binds to macrophage receptors and polarizes them to protect melanoma cells from cell death. Targeting these specific types of macrophages in combination with known therapies has a high potential to improve treatment success.

The project involved collaboration with the teams of Prof. Mitch Levesque and Prof. Reinhard Dummer at the Deparment of Dermatology, University of Zurich Hospital.

The publication can be found here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1934590922003769

More information to the topic can be found in the UZH press release.