tech

Protein's role in skin cancer

US researchers have identified a protein that allows cancer in skin cells to spread, opening the door to potential skin cancer treatments.

US researchers have identified a protein that allows cancer in skin cells to spread, according to a study published Thursday in the United States.

The protein, collagen VII, a molecule normally playing an essential role in keeping skin intact, is also required by cancerous cells to spread, said Standford University researchers whose study appears in the latest edition of Science.

The discovery opens the door to potential skin cancer treatments.

Researchers studied 12 children suffering from recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a rare skin disorder.

Two-thirds of children with the condition develop squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, with 200,000 new cases in the United States each year.

Of analysis of skin tissues of 12 children by Stanford researchers, four samples did not become cancerous when cancer-provoking molecular mechanisms were activated.

Study of these samples showed genetic mutation had left the children affected with no collagen VII, the researchers said.

Samples from the eight other children, which developed cancerous cells, experienced other genetic mutations which produced a fragment of collagen VII.

Scientists then transplanted cancerous cells in mice which they then treated with an antibody that blocked the collagen VII preventing the cancer spreading.