Research NewsGenetics

Gene Linked to Commonest Cancer

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Science  14 Jun 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5268, pp. 1583-1584
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5268.1583


Although most skin cancers are triggered by exposure to the sun, some people are genetically predisposed to develop them. People with the rare hereditary condition known as Gorlin's or basal cell nevus syndrome, for example, develop basal cell carcinoma as well as certain developmental abnormalities. Now, two teams of researchers, one of which reports its results on page 1668, have identified the gene at fault, and it turns out to be the human version of patched, a gene first identified as a component of a key developmental pathway in the fruit fly. Researchers hope that what is already known about patched will give them a clearer picture of how the basal cell carcinoma develops, and possibly lead to new, nonsurgical treatments for the skin cancer. In addition, a second paper (p. 1621) further clarifies the operation of the pathway to which patched belongs