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Perelman School of Medicine Study Shows How Helping Skin Cells Differentiate Could be Key to Treating Common Skin Cancer

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Perelman School of Medicine Study Shows How Helping Skin Cells Differentiate Could be Key to Treating Common Skin Cancer

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a key regulator that impedes skin replacement—a blockage which can trigger the development of skin cancer.

Published in Cell Reports, the team report that the skin’s outer layer replaces itself approximately every month, but when this process becomes hindered, it can cause the growth of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC), a skin cancer caused by the abnormal growth of skin cells. Along with basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a similar form of cancer, they outnumber all other human cancers combined. While many patients are eligible for curative surgery to remove these skin lesions, others are not candidates for surgery and require alternative options.

The Study

In the study, researchers were able to exhibit that LSD1—a regulatory responsible for telling parent cells what type of specific cells to make when they reproduce—plays a critical role in the growth of non-melanoma skin cancers, and that impeding LSD1 could be an effective, targeted treatment method for those cancers.

New Therapy Opportunities?

In many types of cancers, LSD1 is often elevated. Several inhibitors are used to target this regulatory. No study has shown its role in subduing the genes skin cells required for healthy turnover—until now. This knowledge could open the door to new treatment programs that block LSD1 with the use of skin cream or other topical therapy.

Investigator Comment

Brian C. Capwell, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Dermatology and member of Penn’s Epigenetics Institute and Abramson Cancer Center noted “Our study shows that targeting LSD1 can force the skin cells down a differentiation path, which could open the door to new topical therapies that can ultimately turn tumor cells into healthier, more normal cells.”

Lead Research/Investigator

Brian C. Capwell, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology and member of Penn’s Epigenetics Institute and Abramson Cancer Center

Shaun Egolf, Graduate Student

Yan Aubert, PhD, postdoctoral fellow

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