Chronic Inflammation Can Trigger Cancers Via Newly Discovered Mechanism

It is well known that extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause DNA mutations that lead to skin cancer. Now new research reveals that inflammation from chronic skin injury can trigger cancer-causing mutations as well by a totally distinct mechanism.

In a new study, published August 22, 2018, in Science Translational Medicine, Andrew South, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology at Jefferson and UCSF Health dermatologist and geneticist Raymond Cho, MD, PhD, the study’s first author, studied the cells of children with a rare skin disorder called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB). Patients with RDEB lack the connective protein collagen, which makes their skin prone to blistering and scarring at the slightest touch and they frequently develop aggressive squamous cell cancers early in life in frequently injured areas. 

The researchers sequenced the entire protein-coding part of the genome in samples from RDEB patients, which enabled them to detect subtle patterns of DNA mutation across the genome in inflamed and cancerous tissue that were clearly distinct from the types of mutational signatures caused by UV radiation.

The researchers showed that this pattern of mutation is caused by a protein called APOBEC, which normally plays a role in adding diversity to cellular proteins and is also thought to help defend against viruses. 

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A microscopic view of an invasive squamous cell cancer that stemmed from a rare skin disorder called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB), or Butterfly Syndrome. Credit: Andrew South

UCSF Medical Center Named Among Nation's Premier Medical Institutions for the 18th Consecutive Year

UCSF Medical Center has been named among the nation's premier medical institutions for the 18th consecutive year, ranking as the fifth best hospital in the country and the top-ranked hospital in California, in U.S. News & World Report's 2018-2019 Best Hospitals survey.

UCSF received elite Honor Roll status for exceptional performance in 15 medical specialties.  It is the top-ranked hospital on the West Coast on the Honor Roll and the top center in California for  cancer, diabetes, neurology and neurosurgery, respiratory and kidney disorders, and orthopedics.

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Darker Skin is Stronger Skin, Says New View of Human Skin Color


By Liz Droge-Young on June 24, 2016

Popular theories of why our human ancestors gained and then lost dark skin over the course of evolution may be incorrect, according to a new paper by UC San Francisco authors, who suggest that heavily pigmented skin evolved because it forms a stronger barrier against a host of environmental challenges. Because deeply pigmented skin requires more energy to produce, they propose, our ancestors shed some of these pigments through natural selection as they moved north and needed less protection against these threats.

“Work in our lab has shown that darkly pigmented skin has far better function, including a better barrier to water loss, stronger cohesion, and better antimicrobial defense, and we began to ponder the possible evolutionary significance of that,” said Peter Elias, MD, professor of dermatology. Elias co-authored the new paper, published in the June 21, 2016 online issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, with his wife and frequent research collaborator Mary L. Williams, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at UCSF.

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Aelan Cell Technologies Names Michael D. Rosenblum, M.D., Ph.D. to Its Scientific Advisory Board

Aelan Cell Technologies Names Michael D. Rosenblum, M.D., Ph.D. to Its Scientific Advisory Board — Aelan Cell Technologies announced today the appointment of Michael Rosenblum, M.D., Ph.D. to its Scientific Advisory Board. A formally trained immunologist and board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Rosenblum sees patients, conducts research, and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).\

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