Identifying the genes that are important in the development of non melanoma skin
cancer, the most common form of skin cancer, is a focus of new research at the
Griffith Health Institute.
To be presented at this week’s Gold Coast Health and Medical Research
Conference and following Skin Cancer Action Week (18-24 November), the
Institute’s PhD candidate Rebecca Grealy, will discuss the results of her research
which examines the extent to which ‘DNA repair genes’ affect an individual
developing a solar keratosis (SK), a pre-cursor skin lesion of squamous cell
“DNA damage is thought to result in the accumulation of genetic lesions, resulting
in pre-cancerous changes which can be followed by progression to SCC,” said
Professor Griffiths who is supervising Rebecca’s research.
“Functioning DNA repair pathways genes are important to prevent damage accumulation but have
not been previously examined in relation to SK.
“We are therefore investigating genes from a repair pathway in a well-studied skin
The cohort is from the unique population of Nambour, Queensland.
This research has identified that factors such as age, skin colour, propensity to sunburn,
occupational and leisure sun exposure, prior history of skin cancer and signs of
photoageing (eg freckling and elastosis of the neck) significantly increase the risk
of becoming SK-affected.
“As we know, Queensland is the skin cancer capital of the world, with rates the
“Non-melanomas such as SCC are the most common form of skin cancer to be
found. If we can identify genes associated with SK development and
susceptibility, then we will be closer to assisting in the development of future
treatments for this very common type of cancer,” said Professor Griffiths.