Future Sunscreen May Contain DNA — and It Gets Better the Longer You Wear It

Medical innovators have developed a coating made out of DNA that not only improves its ability to protect skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light the longer it’s exposed to the sun’s rays but also keeps skin hydrated.

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“Ultraviolet light can actually damage DNA, and that’s not good for the skin,” said Guy German, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Binghamton University in New York. “We thought, let’s flip it. What happens instead if we actually used DNA as a sacrificial layer? So instead of damaging DNA within the skin, we damage a layer on top of the skin.”

German tells Yahoo Beauty that he and his colleagues “purchased inexpensive DNA that is readily available from scientific distributors — they sell a variety of DNA from different sources.”

The study author further explains that the team created water-based DNA solutions, and when this compound is “coated on a surface — for instance, the glass slides or skin samples we used in the study — they dry out and form solid films.” He continues: “When we imaged them at high magnification (using a scanning electron microscope), we discovered that the films were made up of lots and lots of small — less than a micrometer — DNA crystals.”

And the more the researchers exposed the thin and optically transparent DNA-based 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,” German added in a press release.

Along with investigating the possible healing properties a DNA film may have on wounds — German and his team theorize that this solution could be a viable treatment if you want to be able to see a wound healing without removing the dressing, if you want to protect the wound from the sun, and if you want to keep the wound in a moist environment, known to promote faster wound healing rates — they’re also expanding their probe on DNA sunscreen based on their latest findings, which were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Our current research is exploring ways to make these films better at attenuating UV [light],” concludes German. “We are also examining how UV light alters the structure of the DNA films.”

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