Researchers from UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center are part of a team that has identified a protein, called P-Rex1, that is key to the movement of cells called melanoblasts. When these cells experience uncontrolled growth, melanoma develops. Melanoma is one of the only forms of cancer that is still on the rise and is one of the most common forms of cancer in young adults. The incidence of melanoma in women under age 30 has increased more than 50 percent since 1980. Metastases are the major cause of death from melanoma. The team found that mice lacking the P-Rex1 protein are resistant to melanoma metastases. When researchers tested human melanoma cells and tumor tissue for the protein, P-Rex1 was elevated in the majority of cases – a clue that the protein plays an important role in the cancer’s spread. Their findings were published today in the journal Nature Communications.