Researchers find that a protein activated to repair DNA damage also activates tanning, which can protect against melanoma. Scientists at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have discovered that p53 not only mends genetic material but also kicks off the chemical cascade that results in tanning.
The researchers report in Cell that when p53 is activated (in response to DNA damage caused by the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays and other factors), it triggers production of alpha-MSH, a hormone that then prompts production of melanin, or pigment. Recognizing that p53 is the linchpin of this chain of events could result in a way to "give people tans without needing the sun" (or creams or sprays to artificially color their skin), says senior study author David Fisher, director of Dana-Farber's Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma Program.
Hat tip to Midwest.