Duke Study Finds Way To Block Painful Sunburns

Aug 6, 2013

Some sun is good - giving the body a daily dose of vitamin D. But if you get too much, the rays can harm the DNA in skin cells and increase your chances of getting cancer.
Credit Laura Brunow

New research out of Duke University could put an end to painful sunburns. Scientists have discovered a way to block TRP-V-4, a skin molecule responsible for the redness and pain following prolonged sun exposure.

"Like reddening, formation of soreness and blisters... influx of blood, inflammatory cells, of cells that make itch," said Wolfgang Liedtke, a neurobiology professor at Duke. "That is the tissue injury response down to the level of non-visible."

The research also revealed that skin cells can function as inflammatory cells or immune cells - powerfully controlling the immune system's response in certain diseases.

"Our research points in the direction that the skin cell can likewise moonlight as a sensory cell and as a quasi nerve cell and tweak the way the nervous system is responding to stimuli," Liedtke said.

The results, published in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition, will be available online later this week.