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U-M scientists find genes that control growth of common skin cancer

Scientists at the University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute have identified genes that promote the growth and recurrence of skin cancer. Andrzej Dlugosz, M.D., a professor of dermatology in the U-M Medical School, and colleagues at the University of Michigan and the National Cancer Institute examined the functions of the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway in basal cell carcinoma ?the most common form of cancer ?and uncovered a subset of tumor cells that were resistant to inhibition of the Hedgehog pathway. The new finding has important implications for the treatment of this widespread disease. Their report will be published in the Jan. 15 issue of Genes & Development, but is available now on the journal's Web site.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) affects over 1,000,000 Americans each year and frequently develops on sun-exposed sites, such as the face. Surgical removal of BCCs is an effective approach to treating these cancers, which generally have a slow growth rate and seldom spread or metastasize. However, untreated BCCs can cause extensive local tissue damage, and surgical procedures can produce significant scarring in cosmetically sensitive locations, such as the face. The Hedgehog signaling pathway plays a key role in normal development, and its dysfunction has been implicated in a number of different human diseases and neoplasms, including BCCs in skin and cancers arising in brain, lung, prostate, pancreas and other gastrointestinal organs. Dlugosz and colleagues focused on the function of uncontrolled Hh pathway signaling in the growth of BCC. The investigators used genetically engineered mice in which they could manipulate expression of an Hh pathway component, called Gli2 , effectively turning it on or off at will in the skin. As expected, expression of Gli2 resulted in BCC formatio
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Source:U-M Medical School


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