Seaweed compound MAA key to creating eco-friendly sunscreen

Researchers from King’s College London believe the seaweed compound palythine could be the key to developing a natural, eco-friendly sunscreen which protects against skin cancer.

The team’s study found that the natural compound, a mycosporine-like amino acid (MAA) produced in organisms that live in sunlight-rich, water environments, could protect skin from sun damage without causing harm to marine eco systems.

Many sun lotions use formulations containing UV radiation filters that are not eco-compatible and can make their way into water systems, harming fish and microorganisms.

The team tested their theory on human skin cells which found that even at very low concentrations, MAA could effectively absorb harmful rays from the sun and protect against UVR-induced damage.

It also showed that it could offer skin protection against oxidative stress, which is linked to cellular damage and photoageing.

“Our data show that, with further research and development, marine-derived sunscreens may be a possible solution that could have a significant positive impact on the health of our marine habitats and wildlife, while still providing the essential sun protection that human skin requires, guarding against damage that causes diseases such as skin cancer,” said Professor Antony Young, senior author of the paper.

The team say further research is required to prove that the compound has the same properties outside of the lab environment.

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