Tel Aviv University researchers have found out what causes skin cancer to spread to other parts of the body, and how to prevent it.

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A group of researchers from Tel Aviv University has discovered how malignant tumors from melanoma, the deadly skin cancer, work. The group is led by a young lecturer and researcher, Dr. Carmit Levy. She was interviewed while on a trek in the Alps.

“We discovered that before the cancer erupts and becomes aggressive, it changes its environment.” Dr. Ronen Brenner from the oncology department of Beilinson Hospital explains, “There is a mechanism in which the melanoma cells invade the surrounding area.”

The research was published in the prestigious journal, “Nature”. It revealed that before the tumors metastasize, they send special genetic materials in a protective bubble which prepares the body to absorb the cancerous cells. Dr. Levy explains, “We identified the mechanism and the process and used medicine which may be the basis for stopping the spread of melanoma.”

While the melanoma tumors are not always dangerous themselves, the metastases they send into the body are what make the disease deadly. They can destroy organs such as the liver or brain. If the proliferation of the metastases can be stopped, so can the disease. Dr. Brenner added, “A window has been opened on this disease which may lead to a medical cure preventing the spread of the cancer.”

Every 52 minutes, someone dies of melanoma according to research.  While the findings of the research at Tel Aviv University may lead to a cure, this may still take years until it is ready for public use.