London: Scientists have identified a molecule that causes soreness after exposure to ultraviolet rays, a discovery they say could lead to new treatments for inflammatory conditions like arthritis and cystitis.
Researchers at the King's College London identified a molecule called CXCL5 in the body which is responsible for soreness after exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays.
The findings, the researchers said, not only explained for the first time why sunburnt skin is tender, it also opened the doors for new therapies that could target the pain-causing molecule to reduce pain from a variety of chronic conditions.
For the study, the researchers took a healthy group of volunteers and exposed small areas of their skin to UVB radiation, in order to create patches of sunburn.
Samples of the injured skin contained high levels of the protein CXCL5 which sends inflammatory immune cells to damaged tissue, causing pain.
Further tests on rats showed that an antibody which suppressed the molecule was able to reduce the amount of pain caused by ultraviolet radiation.
Study author Professor Steve McMahon said: "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."