Your Health: Tan in a tube offers safer suntan

Published: May. 5, 2023 at 5:26 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - As many as 97,000 Americans will develop melanoma this year. Almost 8,000 will die from it. Scientists at the University of Cincinnati are developing a cream that will increase pigmentation in a person’s skin while fixing skin cells damaged by sun exposure.

Want to get a healthy tan, avoid wrinkles, and protect yourself from skin cancer at the same time? Researcher Zalfa Abdel-Malek has spent the past 25 years determining the best way to do just that.

“It all started with an interest in understanding how normal human pigmentation is regulated,” Abdel-Malek said.

Her team focused on a receptor in skin cells known as MC1R that controls skin color or pigmentation. The team is developing a topically applied cream that would start a sunless tanning process.

“What you’re doing with our peptides is you’re activating your skin’s natural ability to increase pigmentation,” Abdel-Malek said. “So, when you go out in the sun, you’re not gonna have the drastic and dangerous effects of sun exposure.”

Abdel-Malek said the team’s product would be better than commercially available spray tans, which color the skin, but don’t activate those receptors that reduce DNA damage.

Once scientists finalize the formula, the next step would be tested on human skin. Abdel-Malek said it could be commercially available in the next few years.

The researchers have established a start-up company to continue to develop the product and then move it toward production.

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