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Understanding the causes of melanoma skin cancer

  • Researcher: Professor Emily Bernstein
  • Institution: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Award Amount: £207,353 for 3 years from January 2012
  • Cancer Type: Skin Cancer
Understanding the causes of melanoma skin cancer

Genetic information is like our cellular blueprint - it determines how our cells function. Cancer can be caused by changes to either the structure or activity of key genes that regulate how cells operate, divide and die. One way that cells control the activity of genes is to add specific chemical groups or 'tags' on to the genes themselves or the proteins which act as scaffolding for the genes to ensure proper regulation. The addition of these tags can lead to an increase or decrease in gene activity. This often happens incorrectly in cancers and changes in gene activity may drive the cell to grow and divide in an uncontrolled manner, forming a tumour.
Assistant Professor Emily Bernstein is using her Worldwide Cancer Research grant to study the role of tagging in malignant melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

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