LONDON, July 26 — Researchers from the UK’s University of Bath have developed a chemical compound that offers unprecedented levels of protection against the harmful effects of the sun’s UVA rays, which can include skin cancer.
The famous SPF (Sun Protection Factor) seen on sun creams rates a product’s ability to block UVB rays, responsible for skin aging and the main cause of skin reddening and sunburn. However, the SPF doesn’t give any information on a product’s ability to block UVA rays, which aren’t filtered out by the ozone layer and which can also cause skin damage and skin cancer.
Now, scientists at the University of Bath in the UK have developed a new compound called the “mitoiron claw,” which offers unprecedented levels of protection from the harmful effects of UVA.
The scientists exposed human skin cells to the equivalent of 140 minutes of uninterrupted sun exposure at sea level. Cells that weren’t treated with the mitoiron claw didn’t survive, whereas those that were treated with the compound were completely protected.
This molecule is capable of protecting the mitochondria — cells’ “batteries,” where the concentration of free iron is particularly high. When exposed to UVA rays from sunlight, excess free iron can cause damage to cell components such as DNA, fat and proteins, leading to an increased risk of cancer.
To combat this, the new compound binds to excess iron atoms like a claw, preventing reactions when exposed to UVA rays.
The researchers hope that this discovery will soon benefit the public, with mitoiron claw ingredients added to sunscreens and skin care products within three to four years.
Each year, 200,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed worldwide. 70 per cent of skin cancers are linked to excessive sun exposure, mainly intermittent and intense sun exposure during childhood.
The study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
The study is available here. — AFP-Relaxnews