Clients in the News – BPS Client Researchers Find Molecule That Causes Sunburn

Science researchers at Rockefeller University, Duke University and the University of California, San Francisco recently conducted a study that found that the pain and red skin associated with sunburn is caused by a molecule that’s heavily concentrated in the skin’s epidermis. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The results of this study could lead to a way to prevent sunburn and possibly other sources of pain.

“We see the effects of harmful sun rays to our body surface and we feel the pain associated. We now have a glimpse into how our epidermis instructs our brain to feel the pain,” said Elaine Fuchs, Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor at Rockefeller University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

According to an article published on the Rockefeller University website, part of the study involved researchers trying to block the pain pathway using a pharmaceutical compound called GSK205. When applied to the mice, the researchers found that the animals did not experience the pain-causing and skin-disrupting effects of sunburn. By blocking certain channels in the epidermis, the skin can’t communicate with sensory neurons. This may not prevent skin damage, it does lessen pain.

“Our understanding of how mammals respond to harmful UVB rays is altered, both at the molecular as well as the cellular level,” says Dr. Liedtke, associate professor of neurology and a physician at Duke University Medical Center. “At the molecular level, TRPV4 is a key element of the UVB-sensing machinery in skin. At the cellular level, skin keratinocytes can sensitize the entire organism to feel the pathological pain of sunburn, which means a temporary re-programming of the pain-conducting organization of the central nervous system has been implemented as a result of TRPV4-signaling by skin keratinocytes.”

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