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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Shedding Light on the Sun's Cancer Threat
25 November 1996 7:00 pm
Sunlight may use a one-two punch to trigger skin cancer. Ultraviolet (UV) rays damage a key gene in skin cells involved in fighting off tumors, and at the same time appear to help these dangerous mutant cells survive sun exposure, says a report in the 26 November issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A team at Yale University, the Connecticut Center for Plastic Surgery, and the National Cancer Institute discovered that skin samples removed during plastic surgery from healthy individuals had numerous tiny patches of cells with damaged versions of the p53 tumor-suppressor gene. These patches are bigger and more common in sun-exposed skin (such as samples from nose jobs) than in shielded areas (such as those from tummy-tucks).
"The number of these [patches] was staggering," says paper co-author Douglas Brash, a Yale oncologist. On average, sun-shielded skin had three patches of mutant cells per square centimeter, whereas exposed skin had 33. The patches accounted for up to 4% of the epidermis in exposed skin.
Cells with mutant p53 genes are susceptible to cancer-causing mutations and survive UV radiation more often than do normal cells, which undergo programmed cell death when damaged by sunlight. "It's a double whammy," says Johns Hopkins University oncologist Michael Kastan, who says the study "implicates UV as an early step" in skin cancer. Amato Giaccia, a radiation oncologist at Stanford University, agrees. "It's a very important study," he says.