Scenesse drug implant tans skin without cancer risk
Sun worshippers around the world are rejoicing after scientists have developed a method to get a three-month long tan without the risk of developing skin cancer.
They have come up with an under-the-skin implant which triggers the production of melanin, a skin pigment that controls its colour and also helps to protects against UV radiation.
As the implant releases the melanin chemical, skin will appear darker to resemble a tan, thereby potentially removing the need for people to use sunbeds.
However, rather than being a deliberate cosmetic invention, the Scenesse drug implant was initially developed to help treat skin conditions such as erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP).
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The drug is now undergoing trials to see how it can treat the pigment disorder vitiligo, which is estimated to affect 45 million people across the world.
It is also hoped the Scenesse implant could be a potential treatment for organ transplant patients, who have a severely heightened risk of developing skin cancer.
The implant, which is about the size of a grain of rice, has been developed by manufacturer Clinuvel.
The research was carried out by a team from Manchester University and a professor of experimental dermatology, Lesley Rhodes, said: “Potentially, it does offer an alternative to commercial sunscreens and there are lots of senior scientists who are convinced it is dermatology.”
However, she did point out that more research needs to be until it was made widely available on the market.
In a statement, manufacturer Clinuvel said: “To date, Clinuvel has spent over $80 million developing the Scenesse implant drug product as a therapeutic photoprotective drug for patients who are most at risk from UV and sun exposure.
“Trials to date have raised no serious safety concerns; thus far the drug is well tolerated by patients. The implant drug product has been chosen for its ease of use in dermatology.”
The ability of the implant to prevent skin cancer has been recognised and well received by the world’s biggest cancer charity, Cancer Research.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”