Scientists say they have taken a step forward in understanding why some people are at greater risk of skin cancer because of their family history.
A newly identified gene mutation causes some cases of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, says a UK team.
The discovery will pave the way for new screening methods, they report inNature Genetics.
The risk of melanoma depends on several factors, including sun exposure, skin type and family history.
Every year in the UK, almost 12,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma.
About one in 20 people with melanoma have a well-established family history of the disease.
A team led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, found that people with mutations in a certain gene were at extremely high risk of melanoma.
The mutations switch off a gene known as POT1, which protects against damage to packets of DNA, known as chromosomes.
Co-author Dr David Adams, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said the discovery should lead to the ability to find out who in a family was at risk, and who should be screened for skin cancer.
Written By: Helen Briggs
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