Geogarage

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coral could hold key to sunscreen pill link


Researchers at King's College London have discovered how coral produces natural sunscreen compounds to protect itself from damaging UV rays, leading scientists to believe these compounds could be the basis for a new type of sunscreen in humans.
Dr Paul Long, from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science at King's, discusses how they conducted their research in the Great Barrier Reef, and what they have found.

From BBC

Scientists hope to harness coral's natural defence against the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays to make a sunscreen pill for humans.

The King's College London team visited Australia's Great Barrier Reef to uncover the genetic and biochemical processes behind coral's innate gift.
By studying a few samples of the endangered Acropora coral they believe they can synthetically replicate in the lab the key compounds responsible.
Tests on human skin could begin soon.

Before creating a tablet version, the team, led by Dr Paul Long, plan to test a lotion containing the same compounds as those found in coral.
To do this, they will copy the genetic code the coral uses to make the compounds and put it into bacteria in the lab that can rapidly replicate to produce large quantities of it.
Once we recreate the compounds we can put them into a lotion and test them on skin discarded after cosmetic surgery tummy tucks”

He said scientists had known for some time that coral and some algae could protect themselves from the harsh UV rays in tropical climates by producing their own sunscreens but, until now, they didn't know how.
"What we have found is that the algae living within the coral makes a compound that we think is transported to the coral, which then modifies it into a sunscreen for the benefit of both the coral and the algae.
"Not only does this protect them both from UV damage, but we have seen that fish that feed on the coral also benefit from this sunscreen protection, so it is clearly passed up the food chain."
This could ultimately mean that people might be able to get inbuilt sun protection for their skin and eyes by taking a tablet containing the compounds. But for now, Dr Long's team are focusing their efforts on a lotion.
"Once we recreate the compounds we can put them into a lotion and test them on skin discarded after cosmetic surgery tummy tucks.
"We will not know how much protection against the sun it might give until we begin testing.
But there is a need for better sunscreens."

Another long-term goal of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council-funded study is to look at whether the processes could also be used for developing sustainable agriculture in the Third World.
The natural sunscreen compounds found in coral could be used to produce UV-tolerant crop plants capable of withstanding harsh tropical UV light.

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2 Comments:

At February 2, 2012 at 7:41 AM , Blogger Darla Lorice said...

It will certainly be a breakthrough once scientists have found a way to harvest the corals' power against the heat of the sun. Natural sunscreen is safer and less risky than conventional products.

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At July 29, 2013 at 2:57 PM , Blogger Lauren jonczak said...

That would be awesome to have a sunscreen pill. I am so sick of putting all these harsh chemicals on my body. I have been trying to make my own natural sunscreen for my body lately but it still doesn't seem to work as well as I had hoped. I can't wait for a pill to come out.

 

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