‘Sunscreen’ Gene Might Help in Skin Cancer Protection


Researchers from the University of Southern California have identified the gene that repairs sun damage to protect someone from cancer.

“When people sunbathe or go tanning, those who have the normal UV-resistant gene can repair most UV-induced DNA burns in a timely manner,” said Chengyu Liang, senior author of the study. “Whereas those with the defective UV-resistant gene will have more damage left unrepaired.” 

The Study

The team used data from 340 melanoma patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas, as well as two experimental groups that possessed either reduced levels of the UV-resistant sunscreen gene or a mutant copy of it in melanoma cells and 50 fly eyes; melanoma cells or fly eyes with normal copies of the sunscreen gene acted as the control groups. 

After administering a UV shot to cells with the normal sunscreen gene and those carrying defective copies, the team waited for 24 hours before further examination the researchers found that those who had this “sunscreen” gene had repaired 50% of the UV-damaged cells, whereas the group with the defective gene only repaired 20% of the damage after twenty 24 hours. 

The Impact

"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 Liang. 

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