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Medical Edge: Topical cream could tan and protect skin

Updated: Wednesday, July 23 2014, 11:55 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- A research team at the Cincinnati Cancer Center has a powerful project in the works which could help a person tan their skin while repairing damage from the sun.

When a person spends time in the sun the ultraviolet rays damage their skin raising the risk of skin cancer.  Sunscreen is a good protector but what Doctor Zalfa Abdel-Malek is working on might be even better.  Dr. Abdel-Malek's team has found a way to turn pigment cells, which give skin their color, up a notch.

Dr. Abdel-Malek said, "So we are really targeting the pigment cell in a way that we can help repair any damage caused by  ultraviolet radiation and also get them to stimulate more pigment to confer even better protection."
Now the team has been given a million dollar grant from the National Cancer Institute to take this research up a notch.  They've developed a compound which they are testing on human skin to help alter skin color and turn around skin damage.  What that would then allow them to do is to take the compound and put it in a lotion or a cream or something that could be put on the body.  It would allow a person to tan without the sun but should the person go in the sun it would also protect them from skin cancer.

What would make it unique from anything available now is the way it would activate a cell that in the skin that needs repair.

"So the cell itself is activated to get rid of this damage and go back into its normal situation," Dr. Abdel-Malek said.
It could be available for clinical testing in humans within two years.  It would likely be used by people known to be at higher risk for skin cancer, especially those with fair skin and red hair.

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