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A molecule that darkens skin without UV exposure found; may protect against skin cancer

The long-term objective of this research is to create something that could be used in combination with traditional UV-absorbing sunscreens.

A class of molecule has been found that can successfully penetrate and darken human skin. This has been found by a study that was published in the journal Cell on 13 June. According to the research that was held in Boston a drug is developed in the laboratory by the researchers in Boston also generated protective tans in red-haired mice.Mice are more vulnerable to skin cancer when exposed to ultraviolet radiation similar to humans. The molecules stimulate the cells to produce more UV-absorbing pigments. The preclinic tests are yet to be done to prove that it is safe in humans. It is a follow-up of an earlier study published in 2006 in Nature. The previous study showed how topical compound forskolin, could stimulate a cancer-protecting tan in red-haired mice without the need of UV radiation. "Human skin is a very good barrier and is a formidable penetration challenge; therefore other topical approaches just did not work", says senior author David E. Fisher, the Chief of Dermatology at Havard Medical School, who led the earlier studies involving forskolin. "But ten years later, we have come up with a solution. It's a different class of compounds, that work by targeting a different enzyme that coverages on the same pathway that leads to pigmentation."

In the laboratory, the discarded extra skin was maintained on a Petri dish. When the researchers tested the small molecules in the skin sample, they found darkening that took place was proportional to the dose and the schedule at which drug was applied. These artificially induced tans last for several days, and the colour fades away over time as healthy skin cells to slough off the surface. The skin tone gets back to normal within a weeks time. "We believe the potential importance of this work id towards a novel strategy for skin cancer prevention," Fisher says. "Skin in the most common organ of our bodies to be afflicted with cancer, and the majority of cases are thought to be associated with UV radiation. But we've found that the picture is more complicated, that red-blonde pigments are also more intrinsically carcinogenic, whereas dark melanin is intrinsically beneficial if not produced through the use of dangerous UV injury to the skin. Our approach could help switch pigments to those found darker skin, without a need for UV exposure." The long-term objective of this research is to create something that could be used in combination with traditional UV-absorbing sunscreens.

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  • https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-06/cp-tdd060617.php
  • http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(17)30684-8
  • https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v443/n7109/full/nature05098.html

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