Innovation in Action: Meet the DNA Sunscreen that Gets Better the Longer You Wear It

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 | Skin Cancer , Skin Care , Product Launches and Updates , Research and Publications


Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York have developed a coating made out of DNA that gets better at protecting skin from Ultraviolet light the more you expose it to the sun, and it also keeps your skin hydrated.

“Ultraviolet (UV) light can actually damage DNA, and that’s not good for the skin,” explains study author Guy German, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Binghamton University. “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 and a team of researchers developed thin and optically transparent crystalline DNA films and irradiated them with UV light. They found that the more they exposed the 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,” says German.

As an added bonus, the DNA coatings are also hygroscopic. When applied to human skin, they are capable of slowing water evaporation and keeping the tissue hydrated for extended periods of time.

Next, German intends to see next if these materials might be good as a wound covering for hostile environments where 1) you want to be able to see the wound healing without removing the dressing, 2) you want to protect the wound from the sun and 3) you want to keep the wound in a moist environment, known to promote faster wound healing rates.

“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,” he says.

The paper, “Non-ionising UV light increases the optical density of hygroscopic self assembled DNA crystal films,” was published in Scientific Reports.

Photo Credit: Binghamton University, State University of New York

Photo Caption: Guy German, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Binghamton University, State University of New York

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