Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Dark Tan

PostedJuly 27, 2008

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Randy Atkins:  Our bodies react to sun rays by producing a short-lived hormone.

Victor Hruby:  It stimulates the synthesis of melanin, which is this pigment that causes your skin to darken.

Randy Atkins:  Vic Hruby, a University of Arizona chemistry professor, says that tan is a protective response.  But it comes too late to prevent potentially cancer-causing damage.  So Hruby set out to give people a tan before they go out in the sun…by engineering a longer-lasting version of the natural hormone.

Victor Hruby:  We started to look at the chemical modifications we could make, and still maintain the biological function.

Randy Atkins:  A rice-size skin implant with Hruby's hormone is in final stages of clinical trials.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.