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Spit could unlock questions about skin cancer



Queensland researchers wanted to find out what role genes play in skin cancer as part of the world's largest study of the disease.

Scientists plan to collect DNA samples from 20,000 adults to find out which genes might contribute to or help stem a disease that forces 400,000 Australians to treat each year.

Looking for recruits from all Australian states and territories, including people with skin cancer, have never had one and with a range of skin types.

Saliva samples are used to construct a genetic database that complements 1

8,000 Queenslander profiles that participated in the original round of study a decade ago.

Professor David Whiteman of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute says finding the genes that are important requires a large group of people.

"You do not have to have skin cancer to sign up, it's just as important for non-skin cancer people to join udy so we can find the protective genes that lower the risk for these cancers," he says ,

"By comparing the genetic data of a large group of people, we also get important information about the development of skin cancer. We can work towards better methods to prevent and treat these diseases."

Brisbane mother, Cathy Matt, has called for The first study was filed because she always suspected that there was a genetic link with her family's skin cancer related disorders.

"My mother, my two siblings, other members of my extended family, and I cut out all skin cancers, and I'd like to know what makes us so vulnerable and if it's in our genes," she says.

She admits that she was not sun-protected as a child, but now she takes the protection very seriously and makes sure that her son Riley does.

"Even though I think it's genetic, that does not mean it's unavoidable, I'm protecting my son from the sun," she says.

"It would be great if we could find out if what we're doing – slipping, sloping, slapping, and sunglasses – is enough, or if something else is needed because of my family history."

Australian Associated Press


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