Science 3 min read

Targeting LSD1 Regulator to Prevent Common Skin Cancer

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Every 28 days, the cells in the epidermis – the outer layer of the skin – are replaced by new ones. That’s why cuts, grazes, and bruises can heal and disappear.

While the healing process could get slower as we age, it should continue for most of our lifetime. But that’s not always the case. The process sometimes gets blocked, and when this happens, cancer can grow.

Now, researchers in Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a vital regulator of that block called Lysine specific demethylase 1 (LSD1). The researchers also devised a way to genetically influence skin growth, such that the block never happens.

As a regulator, LSD1 is involved in telling parent cells what their lineage cells should become as they reproduce. That means it plays a significant role in the growth of non-melanoma skin cancers.

In their paper in the journal Cell Reports, the researchers described how blocking LSD1 could be an effective targeted treatment method for specific skin cancers.

Using LSD1 To Force Skin Differentiation

Squamous-cell skin cancer, also known as cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC), is caused by uncontrolled growth of abnormal squamous cells. Along with basal cell carcinoma (BCC), this skin cancer case outnumbers all other human cancers combined.

Although many patients can remove cancer surgically, a few are not good candidates for the procedure. As a result, they usually have to seek other treatment options such as chemotherapy.

Previous studies already suggest that these types of skin cancers thrive when skin cells don’t differentiate as they reproduce. Building on this research, the University of Pennsylvania team believe that they could cure the disease by forcing skin cells down a differentiation path.

In a statement, senior author of the study and assistant professor of Dermatology at the University, Brian C. Capell, MD, Ph.D. said:

“Our study shows that targeting LSD1 can force the skin cells down a differentiation path, which could open the door to new topical therapies that can ultimately turn tumor cells into healthier, more normal cells.”

Many cancers typically come with an elevated LSD1, and several inhibitors exist to target it. However, scientists were utterly unaware of its role in repressing the genes needed for a healthy turnover until now.

With this knowledge, researchers can now develop a new treatment method to block LSD1 – whether it’s a skin cream or other topical therapy.

“By knocking out LSD1, we can essentially turn the switch back on that would tell the skin to differentiate in a healthy way,” Capell said.

The researchers are currently working on a proof of concept, which could pave the way for human clinical trials.

Read More: Vitamin A Linked to Lower Risk of Common Skin Cancer

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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