DEC 31, 2018 9:00 AM PST

Could increasing melanin in the skin protect against melanoma?

WRITTEN BY: Heba El Wassef

Our skin color is determined by the amount and kind of a specific pigment in our skin called melanin which is produced by cells in our epidermis called melanocytes. Melanin does not only help in determining our skin color, but it also protects against the UV rays from sunlight which could lead to skin damage and cancer. Scientists are exploring ways to increase melanin in the skin to protect against melanoma which is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

Inside melanocytes, there are the melanin-producing factories “melanosomes.”, Melanosomes produce two types of melanin; Eumelanin “ dark-color pigment” and pheomelanin “light-color pigment.” Eumelanin blocks the UV rays from damaging the skin, so individuals who have less eumelanin or light-skinned people are exposed to more sun damage and people with more eumelanin have more protection.

The type of melanin and its amount in every individual’s skin cells depend on their genetic makeup. Scientists are trying to artificially induce melanosomes to produce more eumelanin, therefore increasing photoprotection.

Watch the video below for more details on how this is possible and how far the scientists have reached in this research.

Sources: Youtube, Sciencemag, NCBI, ResearchGate

About the Author
  • A master student in Biochemistry and Molecular biology with experience in Education and Research. I am passionate about scientific research and passing my knowledge to others to help them learn about the latest in science by teaching, writing and volunteering in scientific events.
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