Dr. Markus H. FrankThe U.S. News & World Report article Researchers Hone in on Cancer Stem Cells for Melanoma said
Melanoma has joined the list of cancers that can arise from a rare population of primordial cancer stem cells, Harvard researchers report.
Even more importantly, the scientists demonstrated for the first time that targeting these cells can slow down the growth of a tumor.
“The findings validate for the first time the potential therapeutic utility of the cancer stem cell concept,” explained study author Markus Frank. “To my knowledge, cancer stem cells have not been specifically targeted to date via a prospective molecular marker.”
Frank and his colleagues were interested in a particular protein called ABCB5, which is expressed on the surface of some progenitor skin cells and has been shown to confer cancer drug resistance to melanoma.
Markus H. Frank, M.D. is
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School,
Associate Physician, Brigham & Women’s Hospital,
Transplantation Research Center,
Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Boston.
His laboratory research focuses on the physiological and pathological roles of the human P-glycoprotein family of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. His laboratory has cloned and characterized a novel human ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter, ABCB5, which marks mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) subpopulations in human and murine skin. His work has demonstrated a unique regulatory role of ABCB5 in the newly recognized phenomenon of stem cell fusion, and in cell fusion-dependent growth and differentiation.
The identification and characterization of ABCB5 P-glycoprotein as a marker of adult skin-associated stem cells has allowed Markus to initiate studies regarding the differentiation plasticity and immunomodulatory capacity of this unique cell subset in vitro and in vivo. Thus, current and future research efforts of his laboratory are geared towards using adult skin-derived ABCB5+ stem cells as a transplantable cell source for novel therapeutic applications in tissue engineering and regeneration, and for stem cell-based modulation of transplant allograft rejection and autoimmune disorders.
Markus coauthored ABCB5-mediated doxorubicin transport and chemoresistance in human malignant melanoma, Specific MDR1 P-glycoprotein blockade inhibits human alloimmune T cell activation in vitro, Regulation of Progenitor Cell Fusion by ABCB5 P-glycoprotein, a Novel Human ATP-binding Cassette Transporter, P-glycoprotein functions as a differentiation switch in antigen presenting cell maturation, Regulation of myogenic progenitor proliferation in human fetal skeletal muscle by BMP4 and its antagonist Gremlin, and Immunomodulatory functions of mesenchymal stem cells. Read the full list of his publications!
Markus earned his M.D. at the University of Heidelberg Medical School, Germany in 1992, he did an Internship with the University of Munich, Department of Anesthesiology until 1994, and completed his Internship/Residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York in 1997.