Why Melanoma Strikes Redheads | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

People with red hair and very fair skin are 10 to 100 times more likely to get melanoma—and new research pins this on a mutated protein. The normal protein, called MC1R, helps suppress tumors. But, in a lab, cells with the mutant protein divided abnormally fast after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is a risk factor for melanoma. This abnormal cell division is driven by a known cancer pathway, opening the way to developing targeted treatments for redheads with melanomas. Underscoring the urgency, the researchers found that this cancer pathway was even more active in cells with both the mutant 'redhead' protein and the BRAF mutation found in nearly 70% of melanomas.