A new study has shown that exosomes released by cancer stem cells (CSCs) from patients with malignant melanoma (MM) have a different molecular composition from that of exosomes from differentiated MM cells. These differential molecules were also found to be detectable in exosomes present in the blood, and they presented differences in patients with malignant melanoma compared to healthy individuals. This makes them potentially suitable as biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of this disease. The results were published online on October 14, 2020 in Molecular Oncology. The open-access article is titled “Metabolomic Profile of Cancer Stem Cell‐Derived Exosomes from Patients with Malignant Melanoma” (https://febs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/1878-0261.12823). MM is one of the most aggressive types of skin cancer and its prevalence has been increasing worldwide in recent years. Among the factors that contribute to the life-threatening nature and severity of this disease are the late appearance of the first symptoms, the lack of effective treatments, its high metastasis capacity, and also the difficulty of detecting this particular cancer. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of MM therefore continues to be problematic due to the lack of indicators--known as biomarkers--to accurately signal the early stages of this disease and predict how it might evolve in a given patient, once detected. These characteristics, which make this type of cancer such a serious disease, may be partly attributable to so-called cancer stem cells (CSCs), a sub-population of cells that exist in tumors and that present the typical characteristics of stem cells. These CSCs are responsible for tumor initiation, maintenance, and progression, as well as metastasis and recurrence--even years after a tumor has been eradicated.
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