Targeting the Melanocyte Lineage in Development and Melanoma
Melanoma (cancer of the melanocyte) kills over 20,000 Europeans each year and incidence continues to rise rapidly. BRAFV600E inhibitors and immune therapy have led to clinically significant improvements in outcomes for melanoma patients, yet many patients with metastatic melanoma rapidly succumb to the disease due to eventual chemoresistance, or insensitivity to the drug. Thus, it is critical to identify new therapies that can act alone, or be combined with available treatments for enhanced efficacy and/or to overcome drug resistance.
Our research is focused on understanding how melanocytes – the pigment cells that become melanoma – develop, divide, migrate and maintain homeostasis within their microenvironment, as well as the genetic and cellular events that cause melanocytes to form moles and their progression to invasive cancer. To do this, we use the zebrafish system, which allows both the visualization of developing and migrating melanocytes, as well as their aberrant progression to melanoma.
The zebrafish is a powerful model system to study developmental biology, chemical biology and disease models. Due to the similar genetic, molecular and cancer pathology between humans and fish, our melanoma progression model can be viewed as an important starting point for identifying novel genes, environmental conditions, and therapeutic compounds that affect melanoma progression.
We use genetics and chemical-biology to discover the fundamental processes that contribute to melanocyte development during embryogenesis, and explore how these processes contribute to melanoma development. Our lab at the MRC Human Genetics Unit has close collaborations with the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, and ultimately we aim to translate our discoveries in zebrafish to the understanding and treatment of human disease. We have two zebrafish facilities at the IGMM, and access to a wide range of transgenic and genetic lines, diverse chemical libraries, and state-of-the-art imaging facilities.
|Dr E. Elizabeth Patton||Group Leader|
|Alessandro Brombin||Postdoctoral Fellow|
|Hannah Brunsdon||Postdoctoral Fellow|
|Jeanette Johannson||Postdoctoral Fellow|
|Sana Sarvi||Postdoctoral Fellow|
|Sonia Wojciechowska||Research Fellow|
|Zhiqiang Zeng||Senior Research Assistant|
|Andrea Coates||PhD student|
|Richard Crispin||PhD student|
Melanoma, Melanocyte, Zebrafish, Disease models, Chemical genetics
Chemical biology, Drug target ID, CRISPR mutations