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For Skin Cancer Awareness Month, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research looks at recent research into melanoma from Professors Richard White, Professor of Genetics, and Colin Goding, Professor of Oncology.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, multiple researchers focus on the different types of skin cancer. In particular, Professors Richard White and Colin Goding run research groups both with a focus towards melanoma research. The largest risk factor for developing melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet light.

Prof Goding’s research lab uses melanoma as a model to study the role of the Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) in microenvironment-driven phenotype-switching in melanoma biology. The team look to understand how MITF is regulated, and how it integrates microenvironmental signals to determine melanoma phenotype. They also look to determine the role of MITF-related factors in non-melanoma cancers. Their recent paper in Genes and Development shows that MITF plays a non-transcriptional role in shaping DNA Damage Response programmes.

Prof White’s research lab also uses melanoma as a model for their research into tumour initiation and development. By using a transgenic model of BRAFV600E-induced melanoma, the team have discovered that tumour initiation requires the establishment of a permissive neural crest programme. The group asked why some developmental stages were more susceptible to BRAF, and found that neural crest and melanoblast cells were more susceptible to BRAF compared to melanocytes. Richard has recently co-authored an editorial celebrating 20 years of progress in melanoma research in Pigment Cell Melanoma Research.

Further details of the research undertaken by the Goding and White research teams can be found in their respective research overviews.