Fat gene ‘linked with skin cancer’

Fat gene ‘linked with skin cancer’

This research links sections of the “fat gene” with obesity

A gene previously shown to be associated with obesity will even increase the chance of a dangerous sort of skin cancer, say researchers writing in Nature Genetics.

Analysis of information from 73,000 people, led by the University of Leeds, found a particular element of the “fat gene” was linked to malignant melanoma.

It is the 1st time the gene have been linked with a particular disease independently of weight.

The results suggest a much broader role for the gene than originally thought.

Malignant melanoma is the fifth commonest cancer inside the UK with about 12,800 new cases and about 2,200 deaths every year.

An international team analysed genetic data from the tumours of 13,000 malignant melanoma patients and 60,000 unaffected individuals.

They found that people with particular variations in a stretch of DNA inside the “fat gene” or FTO gene, called intron 8, may be at greater risk of developing melanoma.

New targets

Previous research linking the FTO gene with obesity found that variants in a piece called intron 1 are linked with being overweight and overeating.

Several other diseases was associated with the gene but additionally to having a high body mass index.

This is the primary time that researchers have found a link between the FTO gene and a disease which isn’t associated with obesity and BMI.

It opens up a brand new direction in work gazing how the gene functions as previously the focal point was on its effects on weight gain and factors consisting of regulating appetite.

Study author, Dr Mark Iles, a senior research fellow on the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, said: “Here’s the 1st time to our knowledge that this major obesity gene, already associated with multiple illnesses, have been associated with melanoma.

“This raises the question whether future research will reveal that the gene has a task in much more diseases?”

He added: “When scientists have tried to comprehend how the FTO gene behaves, thus far they’ve only examined its role in metabolism and appetite.

“But it’s now clear we do not know enough about what this intriguing gene does.”

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, said: “These are fascinating early findings that, if confirmed in further research, could potentially provide new targets for the construction of gear to regard melanoma.

“Advances in understanding more in regards to the molecules driving skin cancer have already enabled us to develop important new skin cancer drugs so that you can make a genuine difference for patients.”

She added tips on how to prevent melanoma was to bypass damage resulting from an excessive amount of sun exposure and sunbeds.

“Getting a painful sunburn only once every two years can triple the danger of melanoma.”