A protein that normally helps hold the skin intact is also needed by skin cancer cells as they spread to other regions of the body, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered. Identifying this proteins role opens the door for stopping the spread of this deadly cancer-the second most common cancer type in the United States.
The work, which appears in the March 18 issue of Science, is the first published research implicating the protein, collagen VII, in cancer.
The finding came about because roughly two-thirds of children with a blistering skin disorder called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, or RDEB - caused by a mutation that leads to an altered or missing collagen VII protein - develop a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. This led Paul Khavari, MD, PhD, the Carl J. Herzog Professor in Dermatology, to suspect that the protein had something to do with cancer formation.
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