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Melanoma gene quickly reeled in

A systematic effort to test every human gene for connections to cancer has landed a catch earlier than expected. While still testing their strategies and equipment for analyzing DNA, scientists have identified a gene that could play a role in many cases of malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

The discovery is the first success of the Cancer Genome Project, a venture financed by the Wellcome Trust, a British foundation, and led by investigators at the Sanger Institute in Hinxton, England. The suspicious gene, BRAF, was examined early in the project because the protein it encodes participates in a cascade of cell-growth signals that are frequently perturbed in cancer cells.

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