'Pain' chemical discovery in sunburn could lead to cure
A protein has been discovered which scientists believe could be the reason why we find sunburn so painful.
A research study found that when skin is burnt by UV rays, it produces a chemical called CXCL5 which is thought to increase sensitivity to pain.
Experts are now hoping that the new findings could eventually lead to the development of drugs or treatments to ‘cure’ sunburn.
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After exposing the skin of 10 volunteers to harmful UVB rays, the researchers tested a sample of the burnt skin and screened it to see if any pain molecules were present.
They found that there were extremely high levels of the CXCL5 protein, which is part of the chemokines family, one of the key players that cause inflammation.
There is now the belief that the pain that is caused by sunburn could be reduced if an antibody was used to neutralise the effects of the protein.
The lead researcher of the project, Professor Steve McMahon from Kings College London, said in a media interview: “These findings have shown for the first time the important role of this particular molecule in controlling pain from exposure to UVB irradiation.”
He also added that there is hope the discovery of the protein could lead to treatments to other painful illnesses and ailments: “This study isn't just about sunburn - we hope that we have identified a potential target which can be utilised to understand more about pain in other inflammatory conditions like arthritis and cystitis.
“I'm excited about where these findings could take us in terms of eventually developing a new type of analgesic for people who suffer from chronic pain.”