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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Florida International Researchers Publish Novel Findings for Skin Cancer Prevention

Dr. Marcus S. Cooke, chair of the department of environmental health sciences at Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, recently published an article in Scientific Reports with Dr. George Delinasios, the managing editor and executive publisher for the International Institute for Anticancer Research based in Greece.

[Photo: Dr. Marcus S. Cooke]

The article, “Vitamin E inhibits the UVAI induction of light and dark cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers, and oxidatively generated DNA damage, in keratinocytes,” examines Dr. Cooke’s research into the importance of vitamin E in preventing the majority of skin cancers.

Scientific Reports is part of the Nature Publishing Group, and has a growing reputation for publishing very good research, which is reflected in its increasing impact factor,” said Dr. Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of Stempel College. “I am pleased to see faculty publish in such an excellent journal.”

Dr. Cooke, Dr. Delinasios and their team have been part of a longstanding collaboration with Dr. Antony Young at King’s College London. Their research looks at the different mechanisms of sunlight-induced DNA damage and methods of prevention.

The team is evaluating the effect of vitamin E on DNA damage in keratinocytes caused by solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR). UVR has detrimental effects in the skin that can cause serious DNA damage, and research on the long-term effects of this damage is lacking.

This work contributes to the limited knowledge of so-called “dark dimers”– a form of DNA damage prompted by the sun. This type of damage is unusual, as it continues to form even after sun exposure has ended. This phenomenon, first reported in Science in 2013, described how melanin generates dark dimers, and that melanocytes are particular targets for this kind of damage.

The present study reveals that there are also substances in keratinocytes that can enable the formation of these dark dimers. Keratinocytes are the cells involved in the majority of skin cancers; thus, this newfound knowledge has substantial implications for preemptive methods.

Fundamentally, the research displays that vitamin E, applied before or after sun exposure, can interfere with the production of this particular type of damage – together with the prevention of oxidation of DNA induced by reactive oxygen species.

Adding vitamin E, or similar products, to sunscreens and after-sun treatments is a crucial step towards safer sun exposure.

The study is part of a bigger program of work that analyzes different skin types in response to sun exposure and identifies key genomic regions involved in the process of skin cancer.