‘Sunscreen Gene' May Be the Key in Preventing and Treating Skin Cancer

By Jenn Loro - 22 May '16 21:29PM

A study published in the journal Molecular Cell say that scientists have recently found out that 'sunscreen gene' may be the ultimate key in skin cancer prevention and treatment. The findings could potentially lead to the development of new medications to avert the disease.

Frequent exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays as well as too much tanning is main cause of skin cancer. With the 'sunscreen gene' discovery, researchers hope that the effects of exposure to UV rays would someday be repaired.

Scientists arrived at the 'ultraviolet-resistant' gene conclusion after a series of laboratory experiments and medical data analysis of 340 melanoma patients. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US while melanoma is deadliest among skin cancers.

"If we understand how this UV-resistant gene functions and the processes by which cells repair themselves after ultraviolet damage, then we could find targets for drugs to revert a misguided mechanism back to normal conditions," said lead author Chengyu Liang as quoted in a report by Science Daily.

According to American Cancer Society, constant exposure to UV radiation is responsible for 90% of melanoma cases. This deadly form of skin cancer reportedly kills around 10,000 patients in the United States every year.

"People who have the mutated UV-resistant gene or low levels of the UV-resistant gene may be at higher risk of melanoma or other skin cancers, especially if they go sunbathing or tanning frequently," Liang further said as quoted by CBS News report.

The researchers cautioned that more studies should be conducted before medical scientists could come up with a drug could possibly trigger UV-resistant gene's repair function for swift healing of UV damaged cells.

For now, the scientists were only able to establish a correlation between low levels of sunscreen gene with high cancer risk. Their research, however, did not definitively prove a causal link between decreased levels UV-resistant gene and increased risk skin cancer development.

American Cancer Society estimates that around 3.3 million Americans are diagnosed with basal and squamous cell skin cancers every year while 76,380 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, Medical News Today reported.

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