Targeting PTEN may prevent skin cancer

Scientists believe they have identified a role for PTEN, a known tumor suppressor, in removing DNA damage derived from UVB radiation, a known risk factor for non-melanoma skin cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Research.

Yu-Ying He, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, found that with reduced levels of PTEN were more likely to have UVB-induced skin cancers.

"This was an unexpected finding and definitely provides a new approach for chemoprevention strategies," she said. "It's possible that if we can increase PTEN activity through nutritional supplements or some sort of pharmaceutical intervention, we may be able to prevent this common cancer."

Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The 1 million cases diagnosed last year accounted for 40 percent of all new diagnosed cancers. Scientists know that the major risk factor for this type of skin cancer is from sunlight, which leads to DNA damage.

PTEN, which was first identified in 1997, promotes genomic stability and cellular repair and can lead to a reduction in the molecular misfiring that leads to cancer and .

In the current study, He and colleagues exposed skin cells to UVB radiation and examined the rates of . Those with lower PTEN levels had slower rates of DNA repair, because of loss of the key DNA repair protein xeroderma pigmentosum C (XPC). Importantly, if the scientists restored the levels of XPC, then the rates of DNA repair went up as well.

"Cells without appropriate levels of PTEN were not able to repair sufficiently," said He.

He called the idea of a chemoprevention trial "promising," and said that her lab plans to assess the chemopreventive potential of restoring PTEN function.

Related Stories

Sunburn alert: UVB does more damage to DNA than UVA

date Jul 01, 2008

As bombs burst in air this July 4, chances are that sunburn will be the red glare that most folks see – and feel. But unfortunately, even when there is no burn, the effects of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can have deadly ...

Gene helps protect tumor suppressor in breast cancer

date Apr 06, 2009

Scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have discovered a gene that protects PTEN, a major tumor-suppressor that is reduced but rarely mutated in about half of all breast cancers.

Recommended for you

Spicy treatment the answer to aggressive cancer?

date Jul 03, 2015

It has been treasured by food lovers for thousands of years for its rich golden colour, peppery flavour and mustardy aroma…and now turmeric may also have a role in fighting cancer.

Cancer survivors who smoke perceive less risk from tobacco

date Jul 02, 2015

Cancer survivors who smoke report fewer negative opinions about smoking, have more barriers to quitting, and are around other smokers more often than survivors who had quit before or after their diagnosis, according to a ...

Melanoma mutation rewires cell metabolism

date Jul 02, 2015

A mutation found in most melanomas rewires cancer cells' metabolism, making them dependent on a ketogenesis enzyme, researchers at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have discovered.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.