Skin cancer genes identified for first time

Scientists have identified the genes which mutate into skin cancer

SCIENTSTS have discovered the genes which contribute to the most frequently occurring life threatening form of skin cancer.

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is the most frequently occurring life threatening skin cancer.

Unlike other common skin cancers, such as Melanoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma, the genes which are frequently mutated in cSCC have, until now, been unknown.

Now the researchers at Dundee University, Harvard and University of California, San Francisco have identified two highly related genes which are mutated in three quarters of all cSCC cases.

The gene mutations are also active in a significant proportion of SCC cases in the lungs.

“These gene mutations are a common factor in a form of skin cancer which is both common and life threatening,” said Professor Irene Leigh, of Dundee University.

“By identifying these mutations, our group at Dundee, working with international partners, hopes to exploit the process of skin development to which these genes contribute to develop new cancer therapies capable of targeting skin and similar cancers such as lung SCC.”