turtle-clear-edit-002

User login

Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system
Follow Me on Pinterest

Upcoming dive shows & expos

Sydney, Australia
14 Mar 2015 - 15 Mar 2015
   Attending
   

Care to comment? See our FaceBook page

Coral could hold key to new sunscreen

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 form the basis of a new type of sunscreen for humans.
Credit:   Peter Symes
Coral and some algae can protect themselves from the harsh UV rays in tropical climates by producing their own sunscreens
King's College Press release  |  Coral could be used to create sunscreens    |   12-14-2011
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.
share

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.

—Dr Paul Long

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.

The team from Kings College has begun to uncover the genetic and biochemical processes behind how these compounds are produced and eventually hope to recreate them synthetically in the laboratory for use in developing sun protection.

"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.", said Dr Paul Long, Senior Lecturer from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science at King’s College London and leader of the project

Natural sunscreens
A long-term goal of the King’s study is to look at whether these processes could also be used for developing sustainable agriculture in the Third World, as these natural sunscreen compounds found in coral could be used to produce UV-tolerant crop plants capable of withstanding harsh tropical UV light.

‘The part algae play in protecting itself and coral against UV is thought to be a biochemical pathway called the shikimate pathway, found only in microbes and plants. If we could take the part of the pathway that the coral generates, and put this into plants, we could potentially also utilise their shikimate pathway to make these natural sunscreens,’ said Dr Long.

Further reading ►
| Image of |
Further reading ►
Advertisements

Facebook Comments Box