Don't look for it in the drugstore yet. The finding comes from mouse studies in the Boston University lab of David A. Goukassian, MD, PhD. But the report, in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, brims with optimism.
"Topically applied pTT may enhance DNA repair capacity in human skin, in the absence of actual DNA damage that normally induces this protective response," Goukassian and colleagues conclude. "[It] may thus reduce the carcinogenic risk from subsequent solar UV irradiation in individuals at high risk because of fair skin, other genetic predispositions, or advanced age."
A special breed of hairless mice makes an excellent model of human skin cancer caused by sun exposure. But when rubbed with pTT, the mice get significant cancer protection.
Unlike humans, however, mice don't tan. Guinea pigs do. And when rubbed with pTT, they get an added level of sun protection: They tan.
"Among its other protective responses in guinea pigs ... pTT causes tanning that is ... identical to UV-induced tanning and highly [protective against sunlight]," Goukassian and colleagues report.
SOURCE: Goukassian, D.A. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, early online edition, March 1-5, 2004.