Who needs sun blocks? Scientists at Oregon State University (OSU) College of Pharmacy may have just developed a vaccine that could help protect against sun-induced skin cancer, the most common cancer in US according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vaccine would be a messenger RNA like the Moderna & Pfizer vaccines used for COVID19.
“Despite efforts to improve public awareness of the warning signs of melanoma & dangers of excessive UV exposure, the incidence of melanoma continues to rise,” said Arup Indra, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the ‘OSU & study leader.
“For more than 40 years, researchers have considered dietary antioxidants as a possible source of inexpensive, low-risk agents for cancer prevention, but they have not always performed well in clinical trials and, in some cases, they have in fact been harmful, hence the need to attempt to intervene with new chemopreventive agents such as an mRNA vaccine.
The research was based on a protein within the thioredoxin antioxidant system known as TR1. This protein is believed to be able to prevent oxidative stress in melanocytes, the skin cells that are activated by the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
In a study in mice, researchers removed TR1 from their antioxidant systems to evalute how protein affected melanocyte protection. They found that without TR1, melanocyte proliferation was significantly reduced.
They then concluded that TR1 directly affects melanocytes, which are responsible for preventing skin cancer, and that if a vaccine could generate more TR1, it could protect against sun-induced UV damage.
“After mRNA uptake into the cell & cellular machinery going to work, the cell should be at a high level of antioxidants & able to take-care oxidative stress & DNA damage arising from Ultraviolet radiation” Indra said.
The researcher also suggested that people at increased risk of skin cancer could be vaccinated once a year for extra sun protection. The study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.