New DNA sunscreen gets better the longer it is exposed to UV light

August 2, 2017

A new skin film coating made out of DNA actually gets better at protecting the skin the more it is exposed to harmful ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun.

The DNA coating, which also keeps the skin hydrated, was developed by researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York in the US.

According to Guy German, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Binghamton University, UV light damages the DNA and that is not good for the skin. So, they thought of making a “sacrificial layer” of DNA to protect the skin. Instead of exposing the DNA within the skin to UV light and damaging it, they created another DNA layer on top of the skin to receive the damage.

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.

As an added bonus, 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.

German intends to see next if these materials might be good as a wound covering for hostile environments where 1) you want to be able to see the wound healing without removing the dressing, 2) you want to protect the wound from the sun and 3) you want to keep the wound in a moist environment, known to promote faster wound healing rates.

He said the DNA coating not only has applications for moisturizers and sunscreen directly. If the coating is optically transparent, prevents tissue damage from sun exposure, and keeps the skin hydrated, it may also be used as a wound covering from extreme conditions, he added.

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