A team lead by Professor Nick Haywood studied genes of almost 6,000 individuals together with their mole count. Specific changes in two genes were found to make people more susceptible to developing moles. The researchers went onto show that the same two genes increase the risk of developing melanoma.
“These are the first two genes found to increase the melanoma risk by influencing the number of moles a person has,” explained Professor Hayward. It has long been known that having a large number of moles is a big risk factor, therefore we predicted we would find genes linking moles and melanoma. We now have conclusive genetic evidence that having a large number of moles increases an individuals risk of developing melanoma.”
“In the long term, this research will be useful in developing screening techniques, and will also allow us to identify potential new drugs and ultimately develop new therapies to treat melanoma,” said Professor Haywood.