Redheads make up less than 2% of the world's population, however their pale skin - a result of the variants in the Melanocortin 1 Receptor (MC1R) protein they carry, which is involved in pigmentation - make them more susceptible to developing melanoma. However, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine believe they've found a solution.
By enhancing a process known as palmitoylation, the team found they could prevent melanoma from developing, IFLScience.com reported. The full study was published in Nature, and while this experiment utilized mice as the test subjects, the team believes these findings could mean big things for the future of cancer prevention, particularly for this demographic who "suffer from a disproportionate amount of skin cancer," Rachel Baxter writes.
The researchers used a small molecule to increase the palmitoylation of MC1R in test mice and then exposed both the test mice and a control group to UV light. They found that the control group "showed a signficant higher rate of developing melanoma," a statement from the University said. "These results suggest pharmacological activation of palmitoylation prevents melanoma skin cancer in this particular model," study author Dr. Rutao Cui said.