Understanding how kangaroo DNA repairs itself could lead to preventing skin cancer. Australian and Austrian researchers who are investigating a DNA repair enzyme found in kangaroos and other organisms, excluding humans, report that the marsupials' DNA is effective in repairing a particular type of damage linked to several skin cancers.
The research is led by Linda Feketeova, PhD, and Uta Wille, PhD, from the ARC Center of Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology at the University of Melbourne, along with scientists from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. "As summer approaches, excessive exposure to the sun's harmful UV light will see more than 400,000 Australians diagnosed with skin cancer," Feketeova said in a press statement. "Other research teams have proposed a 'dream cream' containing the DNA repair enzyme that you could slap on your skin after a day in the sun. We are now examining whether this would be feasible."
The groups are simulating kangaroo skin's exposure to harmful ultraviolet light in the laboratory and analyzing the DNA repair process, which Wille reportedly said resulted in a number of chemical by-products that have not been seen before. "But there is still much to investigate before this 'dream cream' will be available at the pharmacy, so don't throw out your sunscreen just yet," Feketeova added.
This research will be published in an upcoming edition of Chemical Communications. Overexposure to sunlight reportedly is to blame for at least two-thirds of cases of melanoma since DNA in sunburned skin cells becomes damaged, leading to genetic mutations.