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New drug creates a 'real sun tan' without the risk of skin cancer

15/06/2017

A new drug developed by scientists that mimic sunlight could revolutionise the way in which people tan themselves. The drug tricks the skin into producing the brown form of the pigment melanin, with no damaging UV radiation involved. It’s hoped the drug – which can even work on redheads (who normally just burn when exposed to direct sunlight – could prevent skin cancer and perhaps even slow the appearance of ageing. Our skin gets tanned when it is exposed to UV light and becomes damaged. Our bodies then compensate by producing melanin, which acts as a natural sunblock. The drug, which was developed by a team at Massachusetts General Hospital, is rubbed into the skin to kick-start the melanin production process, effectively skipping the damage to the skin. Dr David Fisher, one of the researchers, told the BBC News website: "It has a potent darkening effect. "Under the microscope it's the real melanin, it really is activating the production of pigment in a UV-independent fashion." Dr Fisher also said that the team’s biggest motivation was not to create a new cosmetic, but instead to help protect people’s skin from skin cancer – the most common type of cancer. He went on to say that dark pigment is actually associated with a lower risk of all cancers – a fact that highlights just how ground-breaking the new drug could be in the future. More testing will now be conducted to fully check the drug’s safety, although the researchers say that so far there has been “no hint of problems.”    

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