Gene Mutation Instigates Skin Cancer, Scientists Say

Sun exposure leads to certain gene mutation
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 7, 2009 11:22 AM CDT
Overexposure to the sun can cause a mutation of the BRAF gene, scientists have found.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Some 70% of melanoma skin cancers may initially be caused by a particular gene mutation resulting from overexposure to the sun, British scientists says, in a finding that could help create targeted melanoma drugs. Researchers had already seen that the BRAF gene was often damaged in cancer patients, but they weren’t sure if it was a “cause or effect” of the disease, Reuters reports.

“Our study shows that the genetic damage of BRAF is the first step in skin cancer development," said the study’s lead author. "Understanding this process will help us develop more effective treatments for the disease.”