Center for Skin Sciences Established, Reports New Findings in Skin Tanning

Twenty five years after a fire at the Bradford City football stadium claimed many lives, the official launch of the Center for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford (Bradford, UK) was marked by a symposium in honor of those who died. This disaster led to clinical and research developments in wound healing and stimulated cutaneous research via the establishment of a plastic surgery and burns research unit at the university, which now has a strong reputation within the dermatological and personal care industries in skin and hair sciences.

The occasion was marked by a symposium on May 11, 2010, featuring keynote speakers covered wound healing, hair follicle genetics and pigmentation/melanoma. Speakers included such experts as George Cotsarelis, MD, an Albert M. Kligman Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania; Angela M. Christiano, PhD, of Columbia University; and Julia Newton-Bishop, PhD, of the University of Leeds.

In relation, the Center for Skin Science announced recent findings related to sunburn-prone skin and its potential to tan. According to the research, redheads are just as capable of making the melanin needed for a tan as are olive-skinned locals. Scientists have have tended to assume that the propensity of redheads to burn is related to their inability to make melanin.

However, researchers found that in the laboratory, pigment cells isolated from very fair (Celtic-type) skin were able to make as much, and in one case, even up to five times more, melanin than cells from olive (Italian-type) skin, when cultured under identical conditions. On the other hand, the fair skin cells also reportedly showed a higher inflammatory response to UVR than their olive-skinned counterparts.

Professor of Cell Biology Des Tobin explained in a press announcement, "Some of the cells from each patient were stimulated to create melanin and the levels measured. Others cells from each patient were subjected to UVR and levels of the pro-inflammatory chemical prostaglandin-E2 (PGE2) measured. All the cells were able to make similar amounts of melanin, with one fair skinned patient making five times more than the other patients. However, melanocytes from patients with very fair skins made up to five times more PGE2 than those from olive-skinned patients.

Tobin added that this research shows that melanocytes may play a role in UVR-induced inflammation, so targeting these cells with anti-inflammatory interventions could offer a new approach for sun care to protect vulnerable skin types. Tobin concluded, "Clearly something within fair skins is also preventing melanocytes from making protective melanin to prevent the harm caused by UVR, and we will be focusing further research on this area."

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