SEP 11, 2018 9:42 PM PDT

Widely-Used Drug Contributed To Skin Cancer

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Credit:  MIT

In a research study at the University of Dundee, Queen Mary University of London and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, a drug, by the name of azathioprine, which is used to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), arthritis and vasculitis as well as preventing organ rejection in transplant patients, has been identified as a contributor the development of skin cancer.

Published in Nature Communications, the research identified a `strong case for an association' between azathioprine and a mutation found in a common form of skin cancer known as cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC). Previously, it was known that azathioprine leads to a heightened photosensitivity to UVA light. Such sensitivity is believed to be the key behind its contribution to skin cancers. The study found that the use of azathioprine leaves a ‘molecular fingerprint’ in skin cancers, implicating it in cSCC. "We recommend all physicians give appropriate advice on UVA avoidance including year-round sun protection for their patients on azathioprine,” explains Professor of Dermatology--Charlotte Proby in the School of Medicine at Dundee.

Credit: Ctdermgroup.com

However, the research team is not necessarily promoting the withdrawal of azathioprine. "As with all medications the risks must be balanced against the benefits, particularly with the need to treat potentially life-threatening diseases with an effective drug," explains Proby. “It is important that sun protection, skin surveillance and early diagnosis/lesion removal are part of the routine management of patients on azathioprine."

cSCC is a commonly diagnosed skin cancer. "It's important to protect your skin from the sun when it's strong, especially if you burn easily or are taking medications which make you more sun-sensitive. The most effective protection is to spend time in the shade and cover up with a hat, long-sleeved top, and sunglasses. For the bits you can't cover, use sunscreen with at least 4 stars and SPF 15 or higher for protection against both UVA and UVB rays,” says Sarah Lowes of Cancer Research UK.

The research also revealed the molecular nature of cSCC which highlighted the potential targets that may be developed for future treatments.

Source: University of Dundee, Nature Communications

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
JUN 15, 2020
Cancer
Using miRNA to Treat Cancer Stem Cells
JUN 15, 2020
Using miRNA to Treat Cancer Stem Cells
In many cancers, there exists a type of cancer cell called a cancer stem cell.  These are cells that, after chemoth ...
JUL 02, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Common Asthma Drug Could Treat Alzheimer's
JUL 02, 2020
Common Asthma Drug Could Treat Alzheimer's
Researchers from Lancaster University, England, have found that Salbutamol, a medication commonly used to treat asthma, ...
JUL 08, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Common Blood Pressure Drugs May Prevent Colon Cancer
JUL 08, 2020
Common Blood Pressure Drugs May Prevent Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of death by cancer around the world. Now, rese ...
JUL 20, 2020
Neuroscience
Phantom-Limb Pain Reduced by Brain-Computer Interface
JUL 20, 2020
Phantom-Limb Pain Reduced by Brain-Computer Interface
Phantom-limb pain is a condition in which amputees feel like their amputated limb is still attached to their bodies. Whi ...
JUL 19, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Nanodrug for Treating Invasive Breast Cancer
JUL 19, 2020
Nanodrug for Treating Invasive Breast Cancer
Scientists at the University of Arkansas created a nano-drug that may eradicate triple-negative breast cancer cells. Fin ...
AUG 05, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
New Drug Prevents Inherited Alzheimer's in Mice
AUG 05, 2020
New Drug Prevents Inherited Alzheimer's in Mice
Researchers at the Salk Institute have developed a new drug candidate that has successfully prevented Alzheimer's-re ...
Loading Comments...