It’s not ready yet for human testing but, reports the Globe’s Gareth Cook, a team of Boston researchers has a lotion that turned the skin of mice darker. It may also provide some protection against squamous cell skin cancer. There is a good deal of press on this. Cook’s story is among the most detailed in describing the experiment and the apparent mechanism of action.
Enough lotion and the fair-skinned mice turned nearly black. It seems to be a real tan, resulting from stimulation of melanocytes in the skin and thus able to block a good portion of ultraviolet rays. The substance, called forskolin, is already sold as an herbal supplement isolated from the root of a plant in India. It has been extensively studied for its ability to alter cellular enzymatic activity. This is its first test as a tanning agent, it says here.
The results are in Nature this week. The work was at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston. Press accounts running illus with the stories don’t show many tan mice. Most pics are of people getting tans, most of them (surprise) young women.
This article was originally published on Boston Globe, BBC, others : In Nature, a report on a lotion that gave mice a tan and may help ward off some cancers