Andrzej Slominski Receives $1,662,408 Grant to Further Skin Research

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Andrzej Slominski, MD, PhD, professor of Pathology and director of the Dermatopathology Fellowship Program and Skin Cancer Division of the UT Center for Cancer Research at UTHSC, has received a grant totaling $1,662,408.

Andrzej Slominski, MD, PhD, professor of Pathology and director of the Dermatopathology Fellowship Program and Skin Cancer Division of the UT Center for Cancer Research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a grant totaling $1,662,408 from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health. The award will be used to further his study on melatonin and its role as a skin protectant. The award will be funded over a five-year period for his study titled: “Role of Exogenous Melatonin in Skin Biology.”

A long-standing, clinically and economically important question is whether the hormone melatonin* and its metabolites (chemical reactions in the body), which are shown to serve as “guardians” of gene and cellular integrity, can be therapeutically controlled to work as general skin protectants with anti-genotoxic, anti-oxidant, and/or anti-carcinogenic properties.

“Melatonin, found in plants and animals throughout nature and made up of certain small-sized molecules, is able to reach all cellular compartments,” said Dr. Slominski. He added, “While the skin is a recognized target for melatonin action, it is only recently that we were able to document that human skin can indeed synthesize and metabolize (change into energy) melatonin.”

By breaking down melatonin metabolism and direct melatonin actions in various layers of skin, novel therapeutic strategies will be defined for using melatonin as a protective or cosmetic agent for skin exposed to UVB radiation (ultraviolet radiation with a range of 280 to 315 nanometers). Thus, melatonin may be used as a component in sunscreens or in the treatment of diseases of the pigment, including pre-cancerous states, epidermal cancer or even melanoma, inflammatory skin disorders and skin aging.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is one of 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health. NIAMS supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis, musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. For more information, visit www.niams.nih.gov.

*Melatonin — A hormone synthesized and secreted by the pineal gland, which is found in both animals and humans. In humans, melatonin is implicated in the regulation of sleep, mood, puberty, and ovarian cycles, and has been tried therapeutically for insomnia, jet lag, and other conditions.