Skin cancers

QSkin study expands to investigate genetics of skin cancers

The world’s largest ever genetic study of skin cancer – QSkin – is seeking 20,000 Australians to provide DNA samples for a DNA biobank.

Researchers at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland are expanding the long running QSkin study with a new stage that will compare genetic patterns in people with and without skin cancers.

QIMR Berghofer Senior Scientist Professor David Whiteman, a medical epidemiologist, said the research team aims to collect saliva DNA samples from people with and without skin cancer, and with a range of skin types, to better understand the role genes play in the disease.

“We recruited more than 44,000 Queenslanders 10 years ago to take part in the first stage of our QSkin study so we could document the burden of the disease and better understand how skin cancers develop,” Professor Whiteman said.

“The first stage of our QSkin study helped us develop a melanoma risk predictor, which is now online and available for public use.”

“We now want to find out what genes are involved. We have already analysed genetic information from more than 18,000 of those original study participants, but in the next phase of the research, we want to supercharge that effort and include more Australians in the research.

Professor Whiteman said the QIMR needs to collect genetic information for at least 38,000 people because genetic studies need very large numbers of participants to have enough statistical power to find the important genes.

All Australians aged 18 and over are eligible to take part in the study and the QIMR are particularly seeking people aged over 30 to sign up.

“You don’t have to have had skin cancer to sign up. It’s just as important for people with no history of skin cancer to join this study so we can find the ‘protective’ genes that reduce the risk of these cancers.”

Study details are available on  the QSkin Genetics web page.

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