Cutaneous melanoma is increasing in incidence at one of the highest rates for any form of cancer in the USA, with a current lifetime incidence of 1 in 68. Although early-stage disease is often curable, the survival rate for advanced disease is low, with an average life expectancy of 6-10 months. Knowledge of the molecular alterations associated with melanoma development and progression is expected to lead to improved therapies and outcomes. Major progress in defining the molecular alterations associated with the evolution of melanoma came in 2002, through a systematic genome-wide assessment of cancer-associated pathways. Large-scale sequencing of growth-associated genes in a variety of cancers identified a high frequency (>60%) of activating mutations of the BRAF kinase gene in human melanomas. This discovery has prompted a large number of studies evaluating the biological significance of BRAF kinase mutations in the initiation and progression of melanoma, and their importance for the development of novel melanoma therapies. Here we review the most recent studies of BRAF kinase in the pathogenesis of melanoma and their implications for defining BRAF kinase as a therapeutic point of interest in melanoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Molecular Medicine