Magazine article USA TODAY

Combating Ultraviolet Exposure Damage. (Skin)

Magazine article USA TODAY

Combating Ultraviolet Exposure Damage. (Skin)

Article excerpt

According to the Centre de Recherches et d'Investigations Epidermiques et Sensorielles (ERIES), Paris, a protein called hepatocyte growth factor helps maintain cell life and skin barrier function without increasing the risk of cancer following damage by ultraviolet light. This research could lead to new treatments for skin cancer and sun damage.

"Cells whose DNA has been badly damaged by ultraviolet light tend to die through programmed cell death to form sunburn cells," explains Erwin Tschachler, professor of dermatology, Vienna (Austria) Medical School and scientific director of CERIES. "Programmed cell death helps prevent skin cancer by eliminating cells that have damaged DNA. Ironically, less-severely damaged cells that survive can transform into tumors. Therefore, it is important to understand what encourages cells to either survive or die following exposure to ultraviolet light."

The study examined the role played by hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), or scatter factor, which signals cells to divide and assume roles. "Hepatocyte growth factor encourages cells to survive by preventing programmed cell death induced by ultraviolet light," Tschachler says. "We know from previous studies that, as the name scatter factor suggests, this protein encourages cells to become more mobile and `scatter. …

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