One of the major downsides of radiation therapy, which is commonly used to shrink cancerous tumors, is its harmful effect on normal cells. Now, thanks to research done by scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, doctors may someday use melanin-covered nanoparticles to administer higher doses of radiation to cancerous cells without compromising the healthy ones.
Lighly complected though they are, the palms of our hands (and soles of our feet) tan slightly when exposed to the sun. But these areas of our bodies never become as dark as our shoulders, for instance, regardless of the amount of light they receive. Cells in the epidermal layer of our skin produce melanin, which colors complexion and protects against UV rays. Increased sun exposure stimulates these cells, called melanocytes, to step up the production of melanin and darken the skin.