Better understanding melanoma, WSU cancer researchers hone in on UV damage mutation sites

Better understanding melanoma, WSU cancer researchers hone in on UV damage mutation sites

Washington State University Molecular Bioscience researchers have developed a way to identify where in the human genome ultra-violet damage or damage from sunlight concentrates to cause melanoma.

They did so by mapping out all ultra-violet damage in the human genome and essentially cross referencing that with all melanoma mutations in the body.

“Ultra-violet damage can change the chemical structure of our DNA and cause mutations at damage sites,” said Molecular Biosciences Research Professor Peng Mao.

What results is that proteins are made which do not perform their typical function, potentially leading to melanoma.

Those DNA mutations can start at ETS transcription factors and binding sites which are known to influence downstream genes.

Understanding the specific locations of the start of melanoma can ultimately lead to more targeted treatments and genetic screenings. It also brings researchers closer to answering the big questions.

“What are the specific genes that are dis-regulated and what are the proteins whose inappropriate activity leads to cancer development,” said assistant professor Steven Roberts.

He says until more is known about melanoma, it’s best to take it safe and limit unprotected exposure to sunlight.

The American Cancer Society says that in 2018, 91,000 folks will be diagnosed with melanoma and more than 9,000 will die from it.

It is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.