Enhanced skin cancer risk linked with to cell defects

February 23rd, 2009 - 1:33 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 23 (IANS) The lifespan of a cell is limited by telomeres or DNA sequences that cap chromosomes and control the number of times it may be copied, according to a new study. Telomere dysfunction in skin cells can lead to increased skin cancer risk and pigmentation, it has found.
Researchers from Spain investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying skin cell telomere dysfunction using a mouse model of Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP), a disease in which patients have increased sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Their studies revealed that these mice have impaired skin cell regeneration, and that limiting the activity of a tumour suppressor signalling protein, p53, restores cell regeneration and reduces hyperpigmentation.

Surprisingly, limiting p53 activity also advances the progression of skin cancers.

This study establishes a link between telomere dysfunction, cancer progression and the dysfunction of DNA repair mechanisms in XP patients.

Understanding the pathways which control cell regeneration and cancer progression in these patients will not only aid in treatments for XP patients, but can likewise provide clues on how to target and better treat other cases of skin cancer.

These findings appeared in Disease Models & Mechanisms (DMM), said its press release.

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