So it's possible that darkening the skin's pigmentation might help neutralize the risk associated with genes for light-colored hair and fair skin.
When the researchers applied the enzymes onto mice and samples of human skin in a lab, both the mice and the human skin turned increasingly dark as more enzymes were applied, according to the study published in Cell Reports.
A drug that darkens pigmentation may have uses beyond the theoretical protection against skin cancer, including to cosmetically darken skin among people with other medical conditions, said Dr.
Jonathan Zippin, of Weill Cornell Medicine's Department of Dermatology in New York.
"There is a limited number of drugs available that can effectively elevate pigmentation in a safe way," said Zippin, who was not involved with the new research.