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
BS/MS
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
You May Also Like
APR 21, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
An Emerging Need to Diagnose Maladaptive Daydreaming
APR 21, 2022
An Emerging Need to Diagnose Maladaptive Daydreaming
Maladaptive daydreaming (MD), also called daydreaming disorder, occurs in people who experience intense daydreams o ...
APR 25, 2022
Health & Medicine
Sex differences in association between cannabis use and diabetes
APR 25, 2022
Sex differences in association between cannabis use and diabetes
A preprint published in Cannabis Cannabinoid Research examined the association between cannabis use and diabetes to dete ...
MAY 12, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Use Impacts Sleep Duration
MAY 12, 2022
Cannabis Use Impacts Sleep Duration
Frequency of cannabis use may be the reason some people get too little or too much sleep. A recent study published in th ...
JUN 06, 2022
Microbiology
Light-Activated Nanoscale Drills Can Penetrate Bacteria
JUN 06, 2022
Light-Activated Nanoscale Drills Can Penetrate Bacteria
In 1999, a miniature rotor that could be moved reliably was attached to a molecule. Researchers have come a long way sin ...
JUN 06, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
New Antibiotic Shows Promise Against Treatment-Resistant Tuberculosis
JUN 06, 2022
New Antibiotic Shows Promise Against Treatment-Resistant Tuberculosis
A new class of antibiotics has shown promise in preclinical trials against drug-resistant tuberculosis. The correspondin ...
JUL 03, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Reversing the Spread of a Deadly Cancer
JUL 03, 2022
Reversing the Spread of a Deadly Cancer
One of the deadliest types of cancer is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC); the survival rate at five years after d ...
Loading Comments...