By Laura O’Neil, BBC News correspondent – For decades, it has been a well-known fact that people with melanoma can develop melanoma skin cancers.
But new research shows that the melanoma cells in skin may be a new source of cancer protection.
The researchers have identified new genes in skin that are crucial for melanoma development, which may help prevent it.
The work, led by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
They have identified two genes – GSK2, a key gene in melanoma, and FITC2, which is associated with the growth of melanoma and skin cancer in humans – that may protect the skin from melanoma growth.
“If you want to prevent melanoma from developing, you need to protect skin against these two genes,” said lead author Dr John Jansen, a professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
“We have a way of doing that.”
A new gene called FITCs is essential for melanomas, but it is not essential for other skin cancers Researchers in Europe and the United States have identified genes that play a role in the formation of melanomas in skin cells, and have linked them to skin cancers in humans.
Dr Jansen and his colleagues from the University at Albany, in New York state, studied skin cells from 20 people with and without melanoma.
The cells were extracted from the skin of the people with the highest risk of developing melanoma over a five-year period, and compared with cells from patients with the lowest risk.
They identified the two genes as FIT1 and FIS2.
“The genes that are important for melanin production in skin have been known to be expressed in the skin in humans for years, and this work is the first time we have identified them in skin,” Dr Jensen said.
The scientists then looked at a gene called the GSK3 gene.
This gene is associated mainly with melanin formation, and it has a protective role in skin cancer.
The GSK1 gene is critical for melanogenesis, and the GSSK2 gene is important for the growth and differentiation of melanocytes.
“What we have found is that these two gene families are very important in melanogenesis,” Dr O’Neill said.
The researchers believe these genes are key for the development and maintenance of melanin in the body, and they are very conserved across all skin cells. “
GSK2 and FITS2 are critical in the development of melanocytic melanoma in skin, and so if these two families are turned off, you don’t develop melanocysts.”
The researchers believe these genes are key for the development and maintenance of melanin in the body, and they are very conserved across all skin cells.
“These are important things that have been found in many different species,” Dr James G. M. Jones, a dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told the BBC.
Dr Jones said that he was surprised by the similarity of the genes found in skin cancers and melanomas.
“There is so much that we know about melanoma but we don’t really understand how melanoma develops in the first place,” he said.