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Protein triggers skin cancer

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HOUSTON, Nov 04, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- U.S. scientists said they have identified a protein that plays a major role in triggering skin cancer.

The discovery, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could lead to treatments to prevent skin cancer, said researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The protein is called STAT3 and has previously been implicated in other human cancers. In the study, the University of Texas researchers found STAT3 is also a prerequisite for skin cancer.

The scientists generated mice that lacked STAT3 in skin cells and found these animals did not develop skin cancer even after being treated with a cancer-causing substance.

In further experiments, injections of a small piece of DNA that blocked the action of STAT3 in skin tumors in mice significantly shrank the tumors. This suggests blocking STAT3 could be a useful modality for preventing or treating skin cancer, the scientists said.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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