Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Melanoma, Nature / 21.05.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Kelly Brooks PhD Research Officer QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute     MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: There are approximately 175 new cases a year for melanomas inside the eye called uveal melanomas. These cancers spread to other sites of the body in about half of patients. Uveal melanomas are very different to skin melanomas and so far no effective treatment have been approved to treat uveal melanoma once it has spread. We sequenced uveal melanoma tumours from over 100 different patients to look at what mutations are responsible for tumour growth and development.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Genetic Research, Melanoma / 29.04.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Matthew H. Law, PhD Senior Research Officer, Statistical Genetics QIMR Berghofer MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: A large genetic study of melanoma involving a global collaboration of scientists, co-led by QIMR Berghofer, the University of Leeds in the UK, and the National Cancer Institute in the US which is part of the National Institutes of Health, has been published in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics. Melanoma is a sometimes-deadly skin cancer, with an estimated 350,000 cases worldwide in 2015, resulting in nearly 60,000 deaths. Melanoma begins in melanocytes, cells in the skin responsible for making the pigment melanin that gives colour to the skin. Melanin is able to block some of the harmful effects of UV radiation, which is why people with pale skin are at a higher risk of skin cancer, but the protection is not complete. Moles also develop from melanocytes, and having a high number of moles is a risk factor for melanoma. UK based co-lead author, Dr Mark Iles from the University of Leeds’s Institute for Data Analytics, said the researchers examined DNA from 37,000 people who had been diagnosed with melanoma and compared their genetic information to that of nearly 400,000 people with no history of the disease.” Joint study leader and QIMR Berghofer statistical geneticist Associate Professor Matthew Law said the researchers identified 33 new regions of the genome and confirmed another 21 previously reported regions that are linked to a person’s risk of developing melanoma of the skin. Two of the new regions we’ve discovered that are linked to melanoma have previously been linked to autoimmune disorders. This provides further evidence that the immune system plays an important role in a person developing melanoma. We also found an association between melanoma and common genetic variants in the gene TP53, which is a gene critical in controlling DNA repair when cells divide, and in suppressing cancer.” Co-lead author on the study and senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute, Dr Maria Teresa Landi, said the research also uncovered other important clues to the genetic causes of melanoma. We used the relationship between moles, pigmentation, and melanoma to identify 31 additional gene regions that potentially influence melanoma risk. For example, one of the regions we identified is involved in melanocyte growth,” Dr Landi said. “Moreover, we also included people from Mediterranean populations involved in the MelaNostrum Consortium. Most studies of melanoma use people with northern or western European ancestry (e.g. British) and by expanding our analysis to include Mediterranean populations, we will gain a greater understanding of the genetics of melanoma in this highly sun exposed group.” (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Coffee / 21.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: coffee-smell caffeineMr Jue Sheng Ong,  PhD Student  QIMR Berghofer’s Statistical Genetics Group MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Previous findings have shown conflicting results on whether coffee is associated with cancer risk. To evaluate whether there’s any evidence for a causal relationship between coffee and cancer outcomes, we performed two types of association analyses using data from the half a million participants in the UK.
  • We first studied whether an individual’s self-reported coffee consumption is related to their overall risk of developing or dying from any cancers.
  • Then, we repeated the analyses using genetically predicted coffee intake (using about 35 genetic markers related with coffee intake) instead of their self-reported consumption: a technique known as mendelian randomization which is commonly used in modern epidemiology to remove bias from environmental confounders.
Using both techniques, we found no evidence to support a relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of developing or dying from cancers. (more…)