1 in 5 people sneeze when they look at the sun, the Naked Scientist explains why

Chris Smith - also known as The Naked Scientist - joins the Eusebius McKaiser Show every Friday and does his best to answer questions either on science or just about anything under the sun from both 702 and CapeTalk listeners.

This week's science story: Gene therapy to treated skin diseases

Doctors in Germany have used gene therapy to grow a complete new epidermis for a boy with a life-threatening inherited skin disease. The boy was seven years old when he was admitted to hospital in 2015 with severe complications of junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB).

This is a rare skin condition caused by faults in a handful of genes that code for anchor molecules that glue the surface skin layer, called the epidermis, to the deeper skin layer known as the dermis. In affected patients, the skin is extremely fragile, and minor trauma or abrasion leads to severe and painful blistering, ulceration and scarring.

The break down in the skin also leaves patients susceptible to bacterial infections, and in the long term the chronic injury process, and relentless regenerative demands placed on the skin, mean that skin cancer is a common complication.

The Naked Scientist

I had to have my ID and passport renewed and i still don't have fingerprints. Can you tell me why?

Wendy, caller

Responding to Wendy, the Naked Scientist says people who would normally present no fingerprints are typically extensive labour workers. He adds that when you rub on your skin, you build up new skin to replace the skin you are losing which may obscure fingerprints from time to time.

You may have an indistinct fingerprint which the machine is struggling to capture.

The Naked Scientist

Why do Ii sneeze when I look at the sun?

Donavon, caller

The answer to this, is that you have the photic sneeze reflex which affects one in five people explains the Naked Scientist.

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