New 'real sun-tan' drug may help prevent cancer

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Melanin is a pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes their color. It (the drug) has a potent darkening effect. That's right, a tan is your body's way of protecting you against the Sun. And under the microscope, it observed that the treated samples showed the eumelanin pigment had been produced and deposited near the skin surface.

"The way we went about this was to identify an ingredient that has the ability to target something in our skin which normally inhibits pigment production". Image credits: Spigget / Wikipedia. Scientists might have found a way to provide people with tans and not put them at risk of getting skin cancer.

"This is a very interesting new development of a potentially very useful product", says Marianne Berwick, a molecular epidemiologist at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, who was not involved with the study.

The substance would induce a tan even in fair individuals with the kind of skin that would naturally turn lobster pink rather than bronze in the sun, the scientists predicted.

With rates of skin cancer on the rise, this could mean a real breakthrough for the lack of medical progression in the area. But it's not enough.

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"Sunscreen will always be useful for certain things", he assures.

"But 10 years later, we have come up with a solution". But what worked on mice didn't work on humans-human skin is five times thicker than mouse skin, so it's much more hard to create compounds that penetrate it. Working with chemist Nathaniel Gray, they found another type of SIK inhibitors which does the same job.

It mimics sunlight for a natural tan without exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation. Although there has been "no hint of problems" in studies conducted thus far - in mice and in human skin explants - more safety testing is planned.

"We are eager to see this enter into the clinic as soon as possible", he says. The more enzymes they used, the darker the skin became. Matthew Gass, from the British Association of Dermatologists, praised the study, saying that it was a "novel approach". Thanks to it, the scientists managed to darken the skin without exposing it to UV light. "I worry these molecules could give people a false sense of security", says Jennifer Herrmann, a dermatologic surgeon at Moy-Fincher-Chipps Facial Plastics & Dermatology in Beverly Hills, California, who has studied the use of tanning accelerator products. The compound hasn't yet been tested in clinical trials-just in mice and on patches of human skin leftover from surgeries.

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