A rare but increasingly common form of cancer, malignant melanoma is one of the most lethal forms of cancer and is responsible for the majority of deaths related to skin cancer. Melanoma arises from a specialized cell type, the melanocyte, which resides at the dermo-epidermal junction. An intrinsic resistant to cell death is one of features of melanocytes that are limited in number. Melanoma cells exploit this innate resistance to cell death to become non-responsive to therapeutic approaches. Therefore, our overall goal is to dissect the molecular signatures of cell death mechanism in an effort to identify novel therapies for melanoma.
Towards this long-term goal, we are currently focusing on the following projects.
To identify lesions in the apoptotic arm of p53 pathway in melanoma.
To dissect the role of autophagy in melanoma cell survival and death.
To determine the barriers that may limit oncogenic BRAF-mediated transformation.