It seems that it is common knowledge that you could increase your risk to develop Melanoma if you practice unsafe sun protection habits. Sun exposure isn’t the only way a person can develop Melanoma.  Sun-sensitivity diseases such as PMLE, EPP,  radiation treatment, and medication can cause photo-sensitivity which can abnormally increase the skins sensitivity to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.  Also, people with Albinism are a population that are at risk for developing Melanoma. In Kenya, Africa 80% of Albinos will die of melanoma before they turn 30-years-old.

Interestingly enough a company called Clinuvel based out of Australia has publicized their creation of an implant called Scenesse that stimulates melanin production. This is big news for people with rare skin diseases. The company isn’t marketing the drug as a skin tanning alternative, but hopes that it will only help those with skin diseases. The implant is about the size of a grain of rice and once implanted under the skin it increases the level of melanin in the skin, which provides protection against ultraviolet rays. The implant and it’s effects last two months. So far the drug seems to be safe and effective, but there is no way to know the long-term effects or if it’s a safe way to tan. The only side-effect of the drug is a darkening of the skin. Scenesse has successfully been used to treat a very rare skin condition called EPP (Erythropoietic Protoporphyria). I read a very promising article about it on ABC News.

The development of this drug raises some very important questions:

  1. Will it ever be marketed to the public to be used as a sunless tanning alternative?
  2. What are the long-term side effects?
  3. Is there a danger from increasing melanin production un-naturally?

What do you think? Are you someone with a rare skin disease and would be interested in “testing” Scenesse?

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