Sun protection gene found: skin cancer completely preventable in the future?

New findings may lead to more effective skin cancer medicines
The risk of developing skin cancer is particularly high in summer. Researchers now found that the so-called sunscreen gene could be the ultimate solution for skin cancer prevention and treatment. Physicians may be able to develop new drugs through the knowledge gained in the future, which make it possible to completely prevent the disease.

sunscreen is a must in summer. Too great is the risk of developing skin cancer due to the increased sunshine. Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine have now discovered in an investigation that a so-called sunscreen gene could be the key to revolutionizing skin cancer prevention and treatment in the future. The physicians published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Molecular Cell".

Many people like to lie in the sun in the summer and tan themselves. This long and frequent exposure to the sun Many people like to lie in the sun and tan during the summer. This long and frequent exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays increases the risk of skin cancer.(Photo: Dan Race / fotolia.com)

melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer
Frequent exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays and too much suntan are the major causes of skin cancer, the physicians explain. They discovered a kind of sunscreen gene in their investigation and now hope that the effects of exposure to UV rays may one day be repaired. For their study, the American experts analyzed the data of 340 melanoma patients. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. A so-called melanoma is considered the deadliest form of skin cancer, add the American experts.

About 10,000 people die from melanoma each year in the US
We need to try to understand how the UV-resistant gene affects the functions and processes that repair our human cells after UV damage, the researchers explain. Then we could find targets for drugs that would allow a misguided mechanism to return to normal conditions, says lead author Chengyu Liang. The constant exposure to UV radiation is responsible for about 90 percent of melanoma cases, and the fatal skin cancer disease is estimated to cause about 10,000 deaths in the United States annually, the physicians estimate.

Frequent sunbathing and tanning increases the risk of skin cancers
When people carry a mutant UV-resistant gene or have low levels of the UV-resistant gene, the risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers increases. This risk is particularly high when sufferers often go for sunbathing or tan frequently, says lead author Liang. Of course, further studies have yet to be done before scientists will be able to develop a new drug that may use the repair function of UV-resistant genes for rapid healing of UV-damaged cells, the physicians explain. For the time being, the researchers were only able to demonstrate a correlation between low levels of the sunscreen gene with a high risk of cancer.(as)

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