Experiment: Active ingredient is supposed to prevent sunburn

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Researchers use mouse experiment to develop active ingredient against sunburn

Summer is not just about sunshine and a holiday by the sea, but often also sunburn. But the burnt skin can have serious health consequences. Every year around 140,000 people in Germany contract skin cancer. 2,300 do not survive the disease. That is why experts have been looking for effective sun protection for decades. Researchers at Duke University in the United States may have made a breakthrough. However, a lot of work is required before the ointment with the new active ingredient against sunburn is ready for the market.

Sunscreen with a high sun protection factor provides only limited protection against sunburn. Asleep in the blazing sun on the beach and there it is: The sunburn - cancer red, painful and dangerous to health. Because UV radiation is the main risk factor for the development of skin cancer. Depending on how long and intense the skin is exposed to the sun, sun protection in the form of a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor is sometimes sufficient to protect yourself from the harmful radiation. But even sun protection factor 30 or higher reaches its limits after a while and the skin is no longer adequately protected. If you want to stay longer in the sun, you should take additional protective measures such as wearing a sun hat and airy but body-covering clothing.

Active ingredient against sunburn blocks the transport of calcium ions into the skin cells To prevent sunburn, researchers around Wolfgang Liedtke from the US Duke University have investigated how the pain caused by burned skin and how the damage and thus skin cancer can be avoided. They put their results in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences". Accordingly, the ion channel TRPV4 in the outer skin layer is the adjusting screw in that it transports positively charged ions such as calcium and sodium into the skin cells. According to the researchers, UVB- Radiation onto the calcium, which then flows into the cells via the TRPV4 ion channel, and also stimulates the endothelin molecule, which increases the transport of calcium.As the researchers write, endothelin also causes the symptoms, pain and itching typical of sunburn .

Initially, the researchers tracked down the mechanism using experiments with around 50 mice. By genetic manipulation, they removed the TRPV4 molecule from the animals and then exposed their hind paws to strong UVB radiation. The animals hardly suffered any damage from the genetic modification, while the unmodified mice showed severe skin burns like sunburn. The researchers then checked their findings using human cells in the laboratory. There was a similar effect.

New active ingredient could prevent sunburn and prevent skin cancer "We have found a new explanation of why sunburn hurts," Liedtke told Spiegel. "If we understand sunburn, we can understand pain better."

After the mechanism had been identified, the researchers wanted to find a way to use it in practice - without genetic manipulation. They developed an ointment from a mixture of a disinfectant and the active ingredient GSK205, which blocks the TRPV4 ion channel. The drug has shown the desired success in mouse experiments, the researchers report. GSK205 prevented the transport of calcium into the cell. "The results show TRPV4 as a new target to prevent and treat sunburn," Martin Steinhoff from the University of California told Spiegel. Steinhoff was also involved in the study also "prevent chronic skin damage such as skin cancer or skin aging". However, Steinhoff knows that it will still take some time before the ointment can be brought onto the market. "There is still a lot of work to be done before TRPV4 inhibitors can be used as part of sunscreens or to treat chronic skin damage."

Australian sunscreen to protect against sunburn with the filter of the coral Recently, Australian researchers have also made progress in the development of a novel, improved sunscreen. For a more effective defense against harmful UV radiation, the scientists examined the sun protection mechanism of the corals of the Great Barrier Reef. For millions of years, the corals have developed special and highly effective filters to protect them from harmful solar radiation. The researchers succeeded in imitating these filters and integrating them into a special sunscreen for humans, as the Australian science agency CSIRO announced. The filters are transparent, colorless and odorless and very stable, making them suitable for use in creams and emulsions. But even with this effective sun protection, it will take some time before the product is ready for the market. (ag)

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