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Why thick skin develops on our palms and soles, and its links to cancer

Date:
February 1, 2017
Source:
University of Queen Mary London
Summary:
Foot callouses/keratoderma (thickened skin) can be linked to cancer of the esophagus (gullet), report researchers.
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Scientists from Queen Mary University of London have discovered that foot callouses/keratoderma (thickened skin) can be linked to cancer of the esophagus (gullet), a disease which affects more than 8000 people in the UK each year.

An inherited form of esophageal cancer, called 'Tylosis', causes thickening of the palms and soles that is so severe that patients sometimes have to shave off piles of hard skin with a razor.

The gene causing the disease, iRHOM2, was found to play an important role in the thickness of the skin of the palms and soles by controlling Keratin, the most abundant component of the skin.

The researchers found that mice with iRHOM2 genes that were knocked out had abnormally thin paw skin, while humans with increased iRHOM2 had thickened palms and soles with callouses, and intriguingly these patients also develop esophageal cancer.

The research, published in Nature Communications, could lead to a new target in the treatment of esophageal cancer and insights into skin conditions such as psoriasis and skin cancer. It also at last explains why the skin on our palms and soles is much thicker than the skin on other parts of our bodies and so uniquely adapted to withstand high pressure and physical stress.


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Materials provided by University of Queen Mary London. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thiviyani Maruthappu, Anissa Chikh, Benjamin Fell, Paul J. Delaney, Matthew A. Brooke, Clemence Levet, Angela Moncada-Pazos, Akemi Ishida-Yamamoto, Diana Blaydon, Ahmad Waseem, Irene M. Leigh, Matthew Freeman, David P. Kelsell. Rhomboid family member 2 regulates cytoskeletal stress-associated Keratin 16. Nature Communications, 2017; 8: 14174 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14174

Cite This Page:

University of Queen Mary London. "Why thick skin develops on our palms and soles, and its links to cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 February 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170201093451.htm>.
University of Queen Mary London. (2017, February 1). Why thick skin develops on our palms and soles, and its links to cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170201093451.htm
University of Queen Mary London. "Why thick skin develops on our palms and soles, and its links to cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170201093451.htm (accessed May 28, 2017).

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