Is DNA the sunscreen of the future?
The article, "Non-ionising UV light increases the optical density of hygroscopic self assembled DNA crystal films," went online today in the open-access Scientific Reports journal.
The team of scientists—Alexandria E. Gasperini, Susy Sanchez, Amber L. Doiron, Mark Lyles, and Guy K. German—“report on ultraviolet (UV) light induced increases in the UV optical density of thin and optically transparent crystalline DNA films formed through self assembly,” according to the published article abstract.
And beyond that, the team noted other benefits of the crystalline DNA films: “When coated on human skin, they are capable of slowing water evaporation and keeping the tissue hydrated for extended periods of time.”
The new study readily suggests that DNA films like those the research team worked with have commercial applications in sun care.
In a press item from Binghamton University, State University of New York, corresponding author German submits that "If you translate [the findings], 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.”
And the researchers believe these topical DNA films could also be used in the medical sector as well: "Not only do we think this might have applications for sunscreen and moisturizers directly, but if it's optically transparent and prevents tissue damage from the sun and it's good at keeping the skin hydrated, we think this might be potentially exploitable as a wound covering for extreme environments," explains German.
The researchers created the DNA film because they knew UV light can damage DNA. Their strategy was to protect the body’s DNA by essentially giving the UV light another (topical) layer of DNA to damage.
“The films,” explains the abstract, “are comprised of closely packed, multi-faceted and sub micron sized crystals.” To find out more, read the full Scientific Reports article here.