05/22/2015

In Your Skin, a Catalog of Sun-Induced Mutations

9:19 minutes

“Normal” human skin cells can contain a surprisingly large number of sun-induced mutations in their DNA, a new study has found. Philip Jones, a cancer researcher at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the U.K., and colleagues took samples of cells from eyelid skin discarded during plastic surgery procedures. By sequencing the DNA in those skin samples, they were able to develop a picture of the types of mutations that can accumulate in skin cells over time. They found that over a quarter of normal, sun-exposed skin cells carry at least one “driver mutation” that can give that cell a reproductive advantage. The scientists are working to understand the factors that lead some cells to become cancerous.

Segment Guests

Philip Jones

Philip Jones is research team leader in pre-cancer at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, U.K.

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About Charles Bergquist

As Science Friday’s director, Charles Bergquist channels the chaos of a live production studio into something sounding like a radio program. Favorite topics include planetary sciences, chemistry, materials, and shiny things with blinking lights.

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