Important parts of our DNA don’t get easily repaired after being exposed to sunlight, cancer scientists at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have shown.
The findings, published in Nature, help researchers to understand how and why mutations accumulate in certain parts of our DNA.
Dr Rebecca Poulos and colleagues studied mutations in the DNA of over 1,000 cancer samples for the study, to better understand how cancer forms and grows.
“Our genes are very important for how our cells function,” Rebecca explains. “We have been studying parts of our DNA that regulate how much of a gene gets expressed in a cell.”
“We found that some of these important regulatory regions become highly mutated in melanoma.”
When they looked at these regions of DNA more closely, the researchers found that they don’t get easily repaired after being exposed to sunlight.
“We don’t yet know how many of these mutations might directly cause cancer,” says Rebecca, “but our research highlights the need to stay sun safe this coming summer.”
Contact: Rebecca Poulos, Children’s Medical Research Institute (formerly UNSW), firstname.lastname@example.org
Banner image: Sun exposure can cause lasting damage to your DNA. (Unsplash CC: Chris Slupski)