Researchers from the University of Arizona, Tucson, have developed a new drug that gives people an almost instant tan. Named Melanotan-1, this drug speeds up the rate at which skin darkens during sun exposure. Research regarding the efficacy and safety of the drug is still at an early stage. The authors of the trials to study its safety have written about the results in Archives of Dermatology.

Highlights of the trials
a. Researchers conducted three small trials to test the safety of the drug.
b. This trial was conducted on 28 volunteers.
c. Volunteers were exposed to varying amounts of natural sunlight or light from a sunlamp.
d. In all cases except one, volunteers who took the drug tanned more quickly than those who did not.
e. In the first trial, tanning was tested with a sun lamp on the neck, in the second light was applied to one buttock and in the third, half of the back was exposed.
f. The longest period of exposure was to natural sunlight over 5 days a week for 4 weeks.
g. It was found to be safe when combined with brief exposure to sunlight or sunlamps.
h. It was also seen that longer treatment over 4 weeks did not cause new adverse effects.
i. The degree of skin darkening was significantly greater than that achieved with ultraviolet light, sunlight or drug alone.

Highlights of Melanotan-1
a. This is a synthetic version of the hormone that stimulates the release of melanin in the cells.
b. It is a "super-potent" version of its natural counterpart, alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone.
c. It is administered through an injection.

Advantages
This drug could bring down the rates of skin cancer.

Disadvantages
a. This drug could adversely hit sales of sun cream.
b. It could put tanning salons out of business.