News on Wellness

Gene Mutation Responsible For Melanoma Development


A team of researchers have discovered that the mutations of a specific gene could be responsible for the hereditary form of melanoma. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins with changes to your skin. They could be anything from a mole, to new growths. These initially are not cancerous but could become over time. An estimated 40% to 50% of fair-skinned people who live to be 65 will develop at least one skin cancer.
Melanoma is serious and could be a terminal form of skin cancer. It is the sole reason why two thousand people die a year in the UK. It is fast gaining ground in the US as well. There are now approximately four times more reported cases of Melanoma than about thirty years ago. There are a shocking number of 13,000 cases reported each year and diagnosed with Melanoma. The most common age group to be hit by this deadly cancer is between the ages of 15-34 years.

Increases exposure to the sun and the use of sun beds are some of the major causes of increased risks of this kind of cancer. But coming back to the recent study conducted by scientists – they have discovered that in approximately 60% of cases, a hereditary mutated gene was responsible for the risk of Melanoma. Experts have already identified genetic mutations in about 40% of inherited forms of melanoma.

A team of researchers from research facilities based in a number of countries – led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK (one of the world’s leading genome centres) – looked at 184 melanoma cases from the UK, the Netherlands and Australia who had hereditary melanoma caused by unknown mutations. The experts have identified mutations genes called the protection of telomeres 1 (POT1) gene as being the main cause of these people being more susceptible to Melanoma. The mutations deactivated the POT1 gene, which protect telomeres located at the ends of our chromosomes. The researchers even found that there could be links to other types of cancer and the hereditary mutations in the POT1 gene.

“This finding significantly increases our understanding of why some families have a high incidence of melanoma,” says Professor Tim Bishop, who is director of the Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology. “Our research is making a real difference to understanding what causes melanoma and ultimately therefore how to prevent and treat melanoma,” says Professor Julia Newton Bishop, who is co-senior author from the University of Leeds.

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