Posted on Jul 31, 2017, 7 a.m.
Researchers have developed a sunscreen made out of DNA that increases protection from ultraviolet light the longer it's exposed to the sun, and hydrates skin.
It might not be long until people apply DNA film to their skin instead of sunscreen. Academicians at Binghamton University have created a coating comprised of DNA that improves its protection of the skin against the sun's ultraviolet rays as more time is spent outdoors. This DNA film even keeps the skin hydrated to boot. The invention was spearheaded by Binghamton University assistant professor of biomedical engineering, Guy German. German's DNA film was recently outlined in a paper published by Scientific Reports.
A Layer of DNA Atop the Skin
It is known that ultraviolet light damages human DNA. This damage is terrible for skin health. German's team decided to make use of DNA in the form of a sacrificial layer. This way, DNA is not damaged within the skin but applied to the top of the skin as a protective barrier. German's research team created an uber-thin and completely transparent DNA film and subjected it to ultraviolet light.
Exposure to the ultraviolet light actually enhanced the DNA film's ability to absorb the light and subsequently protect the skin. This means the longer one remains in the sun, the better the DNA film serves as a protective sunscreen.
The DNA coating also serves as a hygroscopic. This means that skin coated with the film actually stores and retains water much better than skin without the coating. The DNA film really does slow water evaporation once applied to the skin. It keeps the tissue adequately hydrated for surprisingly long periods of time.
What's Next for DNA Sunscreen?
German is adamant his DNA sunscreen has applications for sunscreen, moisturizers, hydration and wound covering in extreme environments. German has stated he will perform some experiments to determine if his DNA sunscreen is also effective as a wound covering. It could prove effective in hostile environments where one desires to allow a wound to heal without a removal of the dressing. Or, if one desires to protect a wound against the sun, the DNA film might help. This invention could even assist in hastening the healing rate of a wound in a moist environment.
Alexandria E. Gasperini et al, Non-ionising UV light increases the optical density of hygroscopic self assembled DNA crystal films, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-06884-8