Allison Perry

New UK Study Helps Scientists Understand Melanoma Development

Published: Jul 15, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 15, 2014) — A new study by University of Kentucky researchers shows how a genetic defect in a specific hormonal pathway may make people more susceptible to developing melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.

 

Fair-skinned people who tend to burn (rather than tan) from sun exposure have a much higher risk for melanoma than darker-skinned people. On the surface, it appears that the amount of melanin,  the natural substance in the skin that determines pigment and acts as the skin's "natural sunscreen," would be the only determinant of melanoma risk. However, the truth is more complicated.

 

Published in Molecular Cell, the study looked at the role of the melanocortin1 receptor (MC1R), the receptor on melanocytes in the skin that gets called into action following ultraviolet exposure to help the skin lay down more UV-blocking melanin to protect itself. Fair-skinned people are more likely to inherit a defect in this receptor, and as a result, cannot make enough melanin to fully protect themselves from UV damage. 

 

Since UV from sunlight or tanning beds is a major cause of melanoma, inherited problems in the MC1R means that the skin lacks natural protection by melanin, which acts as a biologic sunblock. This leads to more UV light chronically getting through to the sensitive layers of the epidermis, where it can contribute to cancer. 

 

However, the UK study showed that MC1R defects contribute to melanoma development in ways other than melanin production. Besides regulating the amount of melanin that gets made in the skin, MC1R also controls how well melanocytes can repair their DNA from UV damage.  Having defects in MC1R signaling delays the body's ability to clear out existing DNA damage in the skin – leading to an increased potential for cancerous mutations. 

 

“Knowing whether people have a specific genetic predisposition for melanoma could potentially save many lives”, says Dr. John D'Orazio, Associate Professor and the Drury Pediatric Research Endowed Chair at UK’s Markey Cancer Center. “If you happen to be born with a problem in this MC1R hormonal pathway, then you need to be extra careful with respect to UV safety.” 

 

A good indication of a person’s MC1R status is what happens to the skin after sun exposure. 

 

“If you tan well, then your MC1R probably works well,” D'Orazio said. “If you tend to burn, then you may have inherited a problem with your MC1R, and you probably should avoid purposeful UV exposure like tanning bed use or unprotected sun exposure."

 

D’Orazio and his research team found an important molecular link between MC1R signaling and DNA repair in their study. The team hopes to use this information to develop new melanoma-preventive treatments, like additives that can be included in sunblocks to ramp up the skin’s ability to deal with UV damage. 

 

Melanoma incidence has increased steadily over the past few decades – in the 1930s, an estimated one in every 1,500 Americans developed the diseases. Today, the odds are about one in every 60. Having a problem with the MC1R pathway raises a person’s lifetime risk of melanoma about four-fold. 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399 or allison.perry@uky.edu

489348045.jpg
May
1
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Sun
2
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Final Examinations
Massage On The Go #2
Mon
3
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Final Examinations
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Tue
4
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Final Examinations
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Wed
5
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Final Examinations
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Thu
6
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Final Examinations
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
End of the Spring 2016 Semester
Fri
7
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Friends Plant Exchange
Sat
8
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Sun
9
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Mon
10
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
First Day of Classes of the Summer I 2016 Four-Week Intersession
Tue
11
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Virtual Dementia Tour
Wed
12
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Thu
13
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Fri
14
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Sat
15
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Sun
16
One + One
Mon
17
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Community Gardens
Tue
18
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Wed
19
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Thu
20
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Fri
21
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Addie's Day: Kentucky Children's Garden
Sat
22
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Founders Day
Sun
23
 
Mon
24
 
Tue
25
 
Wed
26
UK Appreciation Day
Thu
27
 
Fri
28
 
Sat
29
 
Sun
30
Memorial Day - Academic Holiday
Mon
31
 
Tue
 
 
 
 
Reset Page