Reviewing the somatic genetics of melanoma: from current to future analytical approaches

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Metastatic melanoma has traditionally been difficult to treat, and although molecularly based targeted therapies have shown promising results, they have yet to show consistent improvements in overall survival rates. Thus, identifying the key mutation events underlying the etiology of metastatic melanoma will no doubt lead to the improvement of existing therapeutic approaches and the development of new treatment strategies. Significant advances toward understanding the complexity of the melanoma genome have recently been achieved using next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. However, identifying those mutations driving tumorigenesis will continue to be a challenge for researchers, in part because of the high rates of mutation compared to other cancers. This article will review the catalog of mutations identified in melanoma through a variety of approaches, including the use of unbiased exome and whole-genome NGS platforms, as well discuss complementary strategies for identifying driver mutations. The promise of personalized medicine afforded by better understanding these mutation events should provide impetus for increased activity and rapid advances in this field.

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