Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef Corals – Key To New Sunscreen?
The corals of Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef could be the key to a new, natural UV sunscreen for humans, as revealed in recent research by London’s King’s College.
Scientists have discovered that living corals produce a natural chemical, which protects them from the harmful effects of UV sunlight. This chemical could be developed for human use.
Great Barrier Reef corals are living organisms. Its algae produces a natural chemical compound which protects it from the harmful effects of UV sunlight, and this compound flows down through the food chain, also providing UV protection to the Great Barrier Reef fish that feed on it.
Dr Paul Long, Senior Lecturer from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science at King’s College London, who is leading the project, said the recent discovery had interesting implications for human use.
“We already knew that coral and some algae can protect themselves from the harsh UV rays in tropical climates by producing their own sunscreens but, until now, we didn’t know how,” he said.
“We could biosynthetically develop it in the laboratory to create a sunscreen for human use, perhaps in the form of a tablet, which would work in a similar way.”
A King’s College research team has been collecting coral samples from the Great Barrier Reef. It is believed the tablets could be manufactured within two to five years.
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