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J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Mar;131(3):559-61. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.394.

Prospects for skin cancer treatment and prevention: the potential contribution of an engineered virus.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.


Nonmelanoma skin cancers are among the most common human malignancies. Although typically not lethal, they are responsible for tissue deformity and substantial morbidity, particularly in high-risk populations. Solar UVB radiation-a major etiologic factor for this kind of malignancy-produces DNA lesions such as cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers and 6-4 photoproducts in skin. These lesions are removed through nucleotide excision repair because humans lack a DNA glycosylase required to initiate base excision repair of pyrimidine-pyrimidine photoproducts but produce all the other proteins required for this process. In this issue, Johnson et al. show that a DNA glycosylase derived from Chlorella virus and engineered to enhance tissue penetration and nuclear localization can remove UVB-induced DNA lesions in a human skin equivalent model and that the protein can be incorporated into a topical formulation for the prevention and treatment of UVB-induced DNA damage. These results suggest that such an enzyme may be incorporated into regimens for the chemoprevention of skin cancers.

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