Will You Sign Up for the Great News Letter?

Inspiring Stories and Developments that are making the world a better place!

The use of sunscreen is an important part of protecting our skin from overexposure to the sun which causes the development of skin cancers.

Nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is one of the most common types of cancer and occurs widely around the world with a significant economic cost associated with the treatment of this preventable disease.

A team of researchers at Tsinghua University has developed a prototype for a coral-reef-friendly sunscreen that is more effective at preventing sunburn in mice than existing products.

The polymeric UV filter, presented in the journal Cell Reports Physical Sciences, is too large to penetrate our skin, coral, and algae, yet still blocks UV radiation.

It is non-hazardous for coral and algae, two groups of organisms that are harmed by currently available chemical sunscreens.

Credit – Zeng et al Cell.com

Senior author Lei Tao, a chemist at Tsinghua University, was inspired to explore environmentally friendly sunscreen after visiting the Great Barrier Reef in 2010. “I was blown away by the beautiful coral, and ever since I learned that sunscreen is one of the causes of coral bleaching, I kept thinking about ways to develop a coral-friendly sunscreen,” he said.


“I was blown away by the beautiful coral, and ever since I learned that sunscreen is one of the causes of coral bleaching, I kept thinking about ways to develop a coral-friendly sunscreen,”

— Lei Tao, Tsinghua University

The researchers created the sunscreen by using polymerization to create large molecules. They then compared the polymers’ SPF value and capacity to absorb UV radiation and zeroed in on the best candidate. When tested on mice, the winning polymer was found to be significantly superior to oxybenzone, avobenzone, and two commercial sunscreens.

The mice did not absorb the polymer through their skin, nor did they experience any inflammation or other skin damage. The polymer UV filter also appears to be non-hazardous for coral and algae, as Chlorella algae were unaffected when the team grew it in the presence of small amounts of the polymer, as were two common types of coral. These same corals bleached and died within 6 and 20 days of exposure to oxybenzone, respectively.

One caveat of the UV filter is that it is not biodegradable due to the structure of its chemical backbone, but the researchers say that this is just the first step towards developing the next generation of environmentally safe UV filters. They are now hoping to work with companies to test their current polymer and see whether it can be used in sunscreens.

Read more > Coral-friendly sunscreen provides better UV protection than existing options.

The Study > Coral-friendly and non-transdermal polymeric UV filter via the Biginelli reaction for in vivo UV protection

Spread the Great News!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

eighteen − nine =