The sun and cancer: is melanin friend or foe?
Categorie(s) : News, Research
Published : 2 April 2015
When exposed to the sun, the human skin makes a pigment called melanin to protect itself—or so we thought! A team of researchers from around the globe (including several from INAC) recently demonstrated that, when exposed to UVA irradiation, the molecules that help synthesize melanin alter the DNA of the melanocytes (the cells that produce the pigment). These alterations can in turn cause genetic mutations and a serious form of skin cancer, melanoma. Even worse, the mechanism persists even after sun exposure, further increasing the direct damage from UVA rays.
Specifically, INAC researchers are investigating how to measure the damage to DNA using a unique mass spectrometry method developed at INAC. The research, which points out that UVA damage should not be underestimated as compared to UVB damage, was reported in Science.