University of Iowa researchers are trying to figure out how to make cancer cells perform useful tasks for the body, instead of causing harm. A new study used melanoma, or skin cancer, cells which were transplanted to a test area, simulating a damaged muscle.Dr. Mary Hendrix, head of the U-of-I Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, says the cancer cells helped the muscle form blood vessels to help provide a new blood supply to the tissue. Dr. Hendrix says the study has remarkable implications and could lead to new strategies in treating cancer. She says when aggressive melanoma cells are challenged, they can make different decisions about their fate. While the study brought promising results, Hendrix says there are still many important questions that have to be answered in the next battery of tests.What signals told the melanoma tumor cells to form blood vessels? If we could understand those signals, we might be able to turn these cancer cells around to perform a good function instead of just forming a tumor. The study is appearing in the February issue of the journal “Cancer Research.”