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Scientists may have found a way to tan skin without exposing it to UV-rays

With the summer here, chances are that you are probably a little bit spared of the thinking for you that sun-kissed, tanned look is often associated with youth and vitality. The sad irony of course is that we would be able to associate suntanned skin with good health, prolonged exposure to the sun can cause accelerated ageing of the skin, and asassociated risks, such as skin cancer.

A new study published in the journal Cell Reports suggests that things do not have to stay that way, though. What have the scientists discovered a small molecule that is able to stimulate the darkening of the human skin, without exposing it to potentially harmful UV radiation. This relates to the inhibiting an enzyme called Salt-Inducible Kinase (SIK), which is naturally suppressed pigmentation. By inhibiting the pigment synthesis instead of stimulated.

Based on the epidemiology, which shows that dark-pigmented people are at significantly lower risk of developing skin cancer, as well as other indications of UV damage to the skin, we suspect that the ability to stimulate pigment production [min] the use of harmful UV-rays, may provide the benefits without the damage of UV-Dr. David Fisher of Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the researchers on the project, told Digital Trends. In experimental animals it is shown that UV-independent pigment darkening of red-haired mice provides a strong protection of the skin against UV. However, this is not yet tested on humans. The current discovery will hopefully make it possible to test this [in humans].

Before this can be rolled out as a summer staple next to beer coolers and barbecues, however, Fisher explains that it is important to first determine the safety or toxicity of the substance, to know how best to apply it to people. If the connections are found to be safe, the researchers then hope to find that the population of people for whom that is darker would be most helpful, before the implementation of the first clinical test.

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We are currently in discussion with a number of potential partners for the development of the approach towards clinical application, Fisher said.

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