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From genesis to gene sequencing: historical progress in the understanding of skin color


George W. M. Millington, BSc, MB, MRCP, PhD Dermatology Department Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Norwich NR4 7UZ UK E-mail:


Since at least biblical times, humans have pondered on why there might be variation in skin color and what might constitute the nature of that difference. In this article, two historical trails are followed, one beginning with the Ancient Greeks, the other with the Ancient Chinese. These two paths converge to provide us with some historical evidence to back recent scientific discoveries in the dynamic regulation of skin pigmentation, focusing on melanocyte-stimulating hormone and its natural antagonist agouti-signaling protein.