"H-scan Discrimination for Tumor Microenvironmental Heterogeneity in Melanoma"

February 1, 2024

A paper co-authored by former PhD student Jihye Baek, Professor Kevin Parker, and colleagues in the Departments of Surgery and Microbiology & Immunology titled "H-scan discrimination for tumor microenvironmental heterogeneity in melanoma" has been published in Ultrasound in Medicine and BiologyThe abstract follows; more information can be found here.

Abstract: Objective: Melanoma is a form of malignant skin cancer that exhibits significant inter-tumoral differences in the tumor microenvironment (TME) secondary to genetic mutations. The heterogeneity may be subtle but can complicate the treatment of metastatic melanoma, contributing to a high mortality rate. Therefore, developing an accurate and non-invasive procedure to discriminate microenvironmental heterogeneity to facilitate therapy selection is an important goal. Methods: In vivo murine melanoma models that recapitulate human disease using synchronous implanted YUMM 1.7 (Yale University Mouse Melanoma) and YUMMER 1.7 (Yale University Mouse Melanoma Exposed to Radiation) murine melanoma lines were investigated. Mice were treated with antibodies to modulate the immune response and longitudinally scanned with ultrasound (US). US radiofrequency data were processed using the H-scan analysis, attenuation estimation and B-mode processing to extract five US features. The measures were used to compare different TMEs (YUMMER vs. YUMM) and responses to immunomodulatory therapies with CD8 depletion or programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) inhibition. Results: Multiparametric analysis produced a combined H-scan parameter, resolving significant differences (i) between untreated YUMMER and YUMM and (ii) between untreated, PD-1-treated and CD8-treated YUMMER. However, more importantly, the B-mode and attenuation measures failed to differentiate YUMMER and YUMM and to monitor treatment responses, indicating that H-scan is required to differentiate subtle differences within the TME. Conclusion: We anticipate that the H-scan analysis could discriminate heterogeneous melanoma metastases and guide diagnosis and treatment selection, potentially reducing the need for invasive biopsies or immunologic procedures.