Sun Protection – Secrets from the Oceans

Time: 16:00 - 16:30

Date: 2 July 2019

Theatre: Brooks Building


Topical sunscreens enhance human health by reducing sunburn and skin cancer. However, there is growing concern with their use as there is evidence now that synthetic organic filters can damage the environment and be possibly harmful to humans, sufficient that 8 out of the 16 most commonly used sun filters currently licensed for use in the EU are now listed in the Community Rolling Action Plan (CoRAP) of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) for safety evaluation over the next 3 years. This has rekindled the search for safe biocompatible sunscreens. Mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) are a family of >20 secondary metabolites commonly produced by marine algae and seaweeds that reside in shallow-water environments, which are typically exposed to high levels of solar radiation. By virtue of dietary accumulation from the marine food chain, MAAs are found also in the tissues of some marine vertebrates, such as fish. MAAs are highly photostable, absorb solar UV radiation (UVR) and have antioxidant properties, allowing MAAs to protect cells from UVR and free-radical damage. We demonstrate that palythine (from the edible South East Asian seaweed Chondrus yendoi – Japanese “Buddha’s ear”) is an effective biocompatible photoprotective sunscreen, preventing impairment against a number of UVR induced endpoints, including cell viability, DNA damage, oxidative stress and differential gene expression linked to photo-ageing and inflammation. Commercial development of palythine for use in a personal care composition [1] having the designated trademark Dermagie® will be discussed also.

[1] Long PF, Young AR, Lawrence KP. Compositions and methods using palythine. Patent application number PCT/GB2016/052227. Priority date 23/7/15. Filing date 22/7/16. Publication date 26/1/17.


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