Study may hold molecular clue as to why melanoma favors men

December 6, 2005

Dublin -- A study conducted in Ireland may shed light on why men are more likely than women to develop the more aggressive forms of skin cancer.

Dublin - A study conducted in Ireland may shed light on why men are more likely than women to develop the more aggressive forms of skin cancer.

Researchers at the University College Dublin’s Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research say that a gene found only in men is altered by a chemical process, which is in turn linked to melanoma.

Using gene chip technology, the researchers have focused on 66 genes that change as a melanoma moves from an non-aggressive to an aggressive state, and have discovered that a common feature among a significant percentage of these genes is that they have been chemically altered by a process called DNA methylation. One of the genes turned off by this process is located only on the male Y chromosome, which may be a clue as to why men are more likely than women to develop aggressive forms of melanoma.

The research was published recently in the journal, Carcinogenesis.