Scientists find safe way of tanning skin

<span property="schema:name">Scientists find safe way of tanning skin</span>

Scientists find safe way of tanning skin

  • Author Name
    Sarah Laframboise
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With the summer heat settling in, many are heading to the beaches and poolsides to soak up the sun's rays, all in an effort get their golden tans. In the winter, many of these same people will resort to artificial tanning beds in the hopes of maintaining these tans year-round. Yet, what many don't think about is the damage this will causing their skin.  


There are many dangers to sun exposure, but scientists are looking into different ways of tanning that would avoid these dangerous side effects by removing the use of UV radiation. A group from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have recently published a paper in Cell Reports that investigate just this.  


How Does It Work? 


The basis of the team’s research lies around the levels of melanin, a protein responsible for determining skin and hair colour. If you increase the amount melanin in the skin, the skin will appear darker. Therefore, the Harvard team search for a way to artificially increase the amount of melanin in human skin.  


In a preliminary study, they found a compound called forskolin which effectively increased the amount of melanin in the skin of mice in the absence of UV light. This resulted in mice with darker skin pigmentation. However, when injected into humans, they did not get the same results.  


Then the team found an enzyme called Salt Inducible Kinase (SIK) involved in the melanin production process. Since SIK acts as an inhibitor of melanin production, inhibiting SIK allowed stimulation of the production of the protein.  

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