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

Sun loungers

Sun loungers

- Picture courtesy of olivier bellin / Istock.comWASHINGTON, June 14 - After 10 years of research, scientists have come up with a drug that could help people tan without exposure to the sun, potentially reducing the risk of skin cancer. The Massachusetts General Hospital team anticipates that this discovery could stop skin cancer and even slow down the development of signs of aging.

A decade ago, Fisher's team found a way to change the pigmentation of skin cells in mice from very fair to dark, which protected their cells from the type of UV damage that can lead to skin cancer. This takes a while, so the tan lasts a week or so, just like a sun-induced tan. Now, scientists have discovered a compound that could prevent the spread of melanoma cells.

Those mice were used because they have a genetic variant that doesn't allow them to tan, similar to red-headed, fair-skinned humans.

UV radiation darkens the skin by inflicting damage, which then initiates a chain of chemical reactions that ultimately leads to the production of brown melanin, the body's natural sunblock.

"We are excited about the possibility of inducing dark pigment production in human skin without a need for either systemic exposure to a drug or UV exposure to the skin", said Fisher. This provided the opportunity to "try to target that inhibitor, block it and thereby stimulate pigmentation" with a drug, Fisher says.

"Our real goal is a novel strategy for protecting skin from UV radiation and cancer", Fisher said.

But there was one problem.

Now, a decade later, the researchers have come up with a solution that they think will actually work on us - a different class of compounds that cannot only boost the pigmentation process, but also squeeze through the outer layers of our epidermis.

When a strong dose of the compound was tested in red-haired mice, it turned them black within a couple of days, just like the forskolin.

These tiny molecules work by inhibiting SIK (Salt Inducible Kinase) enzymes in the skin, which is like a 'master off switch' for melanin production.

A drug that darkens pigmentation may have uses beyond the theoretical protection against skin cancer, including to cosmetically darken skin among people with other medical conditions, said Weill Cornell Medicine's Department of Dermatology in New York's Dr Jonathan Zippin.

Now, researchers at DFCI together with Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a new class of small molecule SIK inhibitors that are optimized to penetrate the thicker human skin and induce the expression of a gene called MITF.

Despite tanning's well-known link to skin cancer, many of us simply can't resist that golden look.

The next step will be to determine whether the compounds are safe for human use.

We can't wait to see where this research goes next. "UV protection is still absolutely important".

Recommended News

  • 7 takeaways from Jeff Sessions testimony

    7 takeaways from Jeff Sessions testimony

    Sessions raised his voice in protest when asked what those reasons were. "I can tell you that for absolute certainty". He opened by asking the question which was central to the investigation but which, somehow, had not yet been asked.

    Weir Group PLC (WEIR) Stock Rating Reaffirmed by Peel Hunt

    The stock of London Stock Exchange Group Plc (LON:LSE) has "Add" rating given on Thursday, August 13 by AlphaValue. BT Group PLC earned a news sentiment score of 0.13 on AlphaOne's scale. 14,514 were accumulated by Amg Funds Lc.

    Theresa May 'will serve us as long as we want her' - MPs

    Former prime minister Mr Cameron said Mrs May would have to change her approach to Brexit as a result of the election. Critics say a DUP-Tory deal could damage the hard-won peace process in Northern Ireland.
  • Jeff Sessions: Russia collusion claim a 'detestable lie'

    Jeff Sessions: Russia collusion claim a 'detestable lie'

    They say he did not mislead Congress because the encounters were part of his job as a senator, not as a surrogate of the Trump campaign.
    Key takeaways from Sessions' testimony

    Key takeaways from Sessions' testimony

    Sessions said he "racked my brain" and had no meeting with any Russian in his capacity as a Trump campaign adviser. Some have said Sessions recusal should have prohibited him from firing former FBI Director James Comey .
    How to Watch Jeff Sessions's Senate Testimony on Tuesday

    How to Watch Jeff Sessions's Senate Testimony on Tuesday

    As these investigations remain ongoing, no substantive evidence exists that shows the Trump campaign worked with Moscow. Last Thursday, fired FBI Director James Comey had many glued to the TV when he testified before the same committe.
  • Hawaii Becomes First US State To Adopt Goals in Paris Climate Accord

    Trump argued that the Paris agreement favors emerging economies such as China's and India's at the expense of USA workers. The Paris agreement on climate change has set out a global action plan to combat the unsafe effects of climate change.

    Erin Hills and Rory McIlroy: a match made in Wisconsin

    I feel like I can pick up confidence pretty quickly". Stricker said his hard-working path to the U.S. He could have already played in his last U.S.

    NHL Stanley Cup: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins win 2nd straight championship

    Tomorrow, we wake up. "We did that, we knew it was going to be tough to get back here but we found a way", said Crosby . Here's the most ludicrous thing of all: Murray led Pittsburgh to not one , but two titles as a rookie .
  • Warriors take rubber series for 2nd title in 3 years

    Warriors take rubber series for 2nd title in 3 years

    The Golden State Warriors won the National Basketball Association championship over the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday night. Without their best player, the Warriors would have had more difficulty matching up with James and Kyrie Irving .

    California governor named adviser for UN climate conference

    Trump has said he would be open to renegotiating Paris, something most European G7 nations have already rejected. The statement goes further to encourage the 49 remaining parties that have not ratified the agreement to do so.
    Katy Perry reacts to Taylor Swift's return to streaming

    Katy Perry reacts to Taylor Swift's return to streaming

    And I've said that on the record. "And she told me about the power in black women's hair and how lovely it is, and the struggle". And the DJ fired back at his former girlfriend on Twitter after hearing what she said about him to James Corden .

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.