- DNA sunscreen made from crystalline DNA films were designed to protect the skin
from UV rays.
- The scientists who developed the sunscreen hypothesized that using DNA as a first line defense may reduce the risk of DNA damage in the body.
- Apart from protecting the skin from prolonged UV rays exposure, the sunscreen also keeps the skin hydrated.
Sunscreens are used to protect the skin from the harmful radiation of the sun. Ultraviolet rays from the sun damage the DNA and are not good for the skin.
Scientists at Binghamton University, State University of New York have developed a coating made out of DNA that protects skin from ultraviolet light, and also keeps the skin hydrated.
‘The DNA sunscreen is optically transparent and prevents tissue damage from the sun and could be used for wound healing.’
"Ultraviolet (UV) light can actually damage DNA, and that's not good for the skin," said Guy German, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Binghamton University. "We thought, let's flip it. What happens instead if we actually used DNA as a sacrificial layer? So instead of damaging DNA within the skin, we damage a layer on top of the skin."
Benefits of DNA Sunscreen
- Weakens the effect of UV light on the skin
- Continues to attenuate the UV rays during prolonged exposure
- Keeps the skin hydrated for extended periods of time
- Reduces the water evaporation rates from the coated skin tissue.
- Can be used for wound healing as it would be a continuous coating on the skin and a moist environment is known to promote faster wound healing.
German and a team of researchers developed thin and optically transparent crystalline DNA films and irradiated them with UV light. They found that the more they exposed the film to UV light, the better the film got at absorbing it.
"If you translate that, it means to me that if you use this as a topical cream or sunscreen, the longer that you stay out on the beach, the better it gets at being a sunscreen," said German.
The DNA coatings are also hygroscopic, meaning that skin coated with the DNA films can store and hold water much more than uncoated skin. When applied to human skin, they are capable of slowing water evaporation and keeping the tissue hydrated for extended periods of time.
Under certain conditions, the sunscreen might work wonders. It might be good as a wound covering where the wound should be protected from sunlight but should be kept in a moist environment for faster wound healing.
"Not only do we think this might have applications for sunscreen and moisturizers directly, but if it's optically transparent and prevents tissue damage from the sun and it's good at keeping the skin hydrated, we think this might be potentially exploitable as a wound covering for extreme environments," he said.
- Guy German et al., Non-ionising UV light increases the optical density of hygroscopic self assembled DNA crystal films, Scientific Reports (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-06884-8.