The incidence of malignant melanoma continues to increase, with patients having a very poor prognosis once stage 3 disease has been reached (metastatic involvement of the regional lymph nodes). The lifetime risk of developing melanoma in the UK is estimated to be approximately 1:120. Of those patients who develop melanoma, approximately 20 percent will develop metastatic disease and die within five years of diagnosis. Currently there are limited strategies for early detection of progression towards stage 3 disease, and no treatment available that will effect a cure. 

MicroRNAs (miRNA) are a class of post-transcriptional regulators, involved in a variety of cellular processes. Abnormalities in the expression of miRNAs have been implicated in a range of different cancers. Several miRNAs have distinct expression patterns in malignant melanomas, but their significance in relation to melanoma initiation and progression is not fully understood. 

Our project is a three way collaboration between scientists at the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation (BMRF), East Grinstead and Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) and clinicians at the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Unit (MASCU) at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. Together we are working towards clarifying the role of miRNAs in disease progression of malignant melanoma. 

For more information about melanoma and melanoma research projects, please visit the website of our sponsor The Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Trust