Prevent Skin Cancer?


CINCINNATI, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) – As many as 97,000 Americans will develop melanoma this year, and almost 8,000 will die from it. Now, scientists at the University of Cincinnati are developing a cream that will increase pigmentation in a person’s skin while repairing skin cells damaged by sun exposure. Skin Cancer

Want to get a healthy tan, avoid wrinkles, and protect yourself from skin cancer at the same time? University of Cincinnati researcher Zalfa Abdel-Malek has spent the past 25 years determining the best way to do just that.

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“It all started with interest in understanding how normal human pigmentation is regulated,” she says.

Abdel-Malek and her team focused on a receptor in skin cells known as MC1R that controls skin color or pigmentation. The team is developing a topically applied cream that would start a sunless tanning process.

Abdel-Malek explains, “What you’re doing with our peptides is you’re activating your skin’s natural ability to increase pigmentation. So, when you go out in the sun, you’re not going to have the drastic and dangerous effects of sun exposure.”

Abdel-Malek says the team’s product would be better than commercially available spray tans, which color the skin, but don’t activate those receptors that reduce DNA damage.

Once scientists finalize the formula, the next step would be tests on human skin. Abdel-Malek says it could be commercially available in the next few years.

The researchers have established a start-up company, called MC1R Ventures to continue to develop the product and then move it toward production. Abel-Malek says the cream could also have an application for people who have lost pigmentation due to the condition vitiligo.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5207

BACKGROUND: Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells and it most often develops on skin exposed to the sun, but it can also occur on areas of your skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are the three major types of skin cancer. According to, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70 and more than two people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.


DIAGNOSING: Skin cancer develops primarily on areas of sun-exposed skin, such as the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and on the legs in women. It can also form on areas that rarely see the light of day like your palms, beneath your fingernails or toenails, and your genital area. Skin cancer affects people of all skin tones, including those with darker complexions and when melanoma occurs in people with dark skin tones, it’s more likely to occur in areas not normally exposed to the sun, such as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Basal cell carcinoma may appear as a pearly or waxy bump, squamous cell carcinoma may appear as a firm, red nodule, and melanoma may appear as a mole that changes color, size, or bleed. To diagnose skin cancer, your doctor may examine your skin and/or remove a sample of suspicious skin for testing (which is a skin biopsy).


NEW TECHNOLOGY: In the near future, people could get a tan while at the same time reduce their risk of skin cancer, skin damage, premature aging and wrinkles. It’s all thanks to a product being developed by a University of Cincinnati Venture Lab-backed startup called MC1R Ventures led by Zalfa A. Abdel-Malek, PhD, a professor of dermatology in the UC College of Medicine. Abdel-Malek has spent more than 25 years researching ways to prevent melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer and she’s currently developing a topically applied product to initiate sunless tanning, which could have medical and cosmetic applications.



Tim Tedeschi

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Zalfa Abdel-Malek, Professor of Dermatology

Read the entire Q&A