New kind of ‘tan in a bottle’ may one day protect against skin cancer | Science News

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New kind of ‘tan in a bottle’ may one day protect against skin cancer

Early drug tests show a boost in melanin without the sun

12:47pm, June 13, 2017
skin cream

RUB IN, NO RAYS  A topical drug that tanned human skin samples without ultraviolet radiation might one day be used to make lotions or creams that protect against skin cancer.

A method that gives mice a tan without using ultraviolet radiation now works in human skin samples. It’s an early step in developing a lotion or cream that might provide fair-skinned folk with protection against skin cancer.

As reported June 13 in Cell Reports, a topical drug penetrated and tanned laboratory samples of live human skin, absent the sun. Unlike self-tanning lotions that essentially stain skin brown and provide minimal sun protection, the drug activates the production of the dark form of the skin pigment melanin, which absorbs UV radiation and diminishes damage to skin cells.

The team behind this study had worked with a different drug, the plant extract forskolin, in a 2006 study. The researchers used mice with skin like that of red-haired, fair-skinned people, who don’t tan because of a nonfunctioning protein on the surface of the skin cells that make melanin.

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