Discovery of "KiSS" Gene May Help Stop Spread Of Melanoma

December 04, 1996

HERSHEY, PA -- Researchers at Penn State's College of Medicine in Hershey have discovered a new gene that suppresses the metastasis--or spread--of melanoma, the often fatal skin cancer.

According to a report in the December 4 Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the gene reduces the spread of melanoma in laboratory mice and may help in determining whether human melanomas are prone to metastasis. The gene, called KiSS-1, was isolated from the cells of malignant melanomas by Jeong-Hyung Lee, Ph.D., a postdoctoral pathology fellow from Korea, and Dan R. Welch, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology, at the College of Medicine's Jake Gittlen Cancer Institute.

Though the KiSS-1 gene does not completely prevent metastasis,"it does keep it from spreading at least 50 percent of the time," says Welch. "KiSS-1 may be the most potent gene to block or suppress metastasis in human cancer." The KiSS-1 gene is located on chromosome 1.

The gene mapping was done by Bernard E. Weissman of the Department of Pathology, Lineberger Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Jeffrey M. Trent of the Division of Intramural Research, National Center for Human Genome Research, Bethesda, Md.

Melanoma is the fastest growing skin cancer, says Welch. "The rate of increase has more than doubled with each decade since 1950."

The name of the KiSS-1 gene, incidentally, was inspired by the Hershey candy of the same name. The "SS" in KiSS-1 stands for "suppresser sequences," according to Welch, and the rest "simply makes it easily identifiable with Hershey."

*KiSS *

Penn State

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