Similarities between cancerous and normal skin cells

May 21, 2015

Normal human skin cells harbor a surprisingly large number of un-inherited mutations that crop up over time, including many known cancer-promoters that help to drive tumor growth, researchers say. These new findings reveal that so-called driver mutations, which are known to accumulate in certain skin cancer cells, also occur frequently in normal, sun-exposed skin cells. They provide insights into the earliest stages of cancer development and raise important questions about the events that transform normal skin cells into cancer cells. Iñigo Martincorena and colleagues studied excess skin that was removed from the eyelids of four patients, aged 55 to 73, during a routine plastic surgery operation. The researchers took 234 small biopsies of this skin and sequenced the genomes of its cells, looking for mutations in genes that have been implicated in different types of cancer. Martincorena et al. identified patterns of mutations associated with exposure to ultraviolet light, noting that the burden of such mutations was often higher in normal skin cells than it is in many skin cancer cells. The researchers then devised a method to determine which of the acquired, or somatic, mutations in the healthy skin cells might stick around and drive cancer. Their results suggest that many mutations that are known for driving cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, including those affecting NOTCH genes and P53, are already under strong positive selection in normal skin cells. And, overall, the researchers suggest that more than 25% of normal, sun-exposed skin cells carry at least one of these driver mutations -- and that every square centimeter of skin contains hundreds of cancerous clones, competing to pass on their genes. A Perspective article by Douglas Brash highlights these findings.
Article #14: "High burden and pervasive positive selection of somatic mutations in normal human skin," by I. Martincorena; M. Gerstung; P. Ellis; P. Van Loo; S. McLaren; D.C. Wedge; A. Fullam; L.B. Alexandrov; J.M. Tubio; L. Stebbings; A. Menzies; S. Widaa; M.R. Stratton; P.J. Campbell at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK; A. Roshan; P.H. Jones; P.J. Campbell at University of Cambridge in Cambridge, UK; P. Van Loo at Francis Crick Institute in London, UK; P. Van Loo at University of Leuven in Leuven, Belgium.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to