Scientists have developed a new formulation of sunscreen that contains caged-iron chelators, which actively repairs sunburnt skin and helps prevent the onset of skin cancer.
When skin is exposed to high doses of sunlight, such as when you are sunbathing, a massive amount of free iron is released in skin cells,” said Dr Charareh Pourzand from the University of Bath who is working in collaboration with Dr James Dowden (presently at Nottingham University).
“This free iron can act as catalysts for the generation of more harmful free radicals that cause severe cell damage.
The scientists therefore formulated a sunscreen that contains caged iron chelators, which binds to the free iron molecules released in skin cells when the skin is exposed to high doses of UV radiation. This reduces the inflammation and pain that goes with sunburn as well as prevents the build up of harmful sunlight-generated free radicals, which may lead to skin cancers. The compound is light-responsive and only becomes active when it is exposed to UV radiation in sunlight, avoiding any side-effects that might result from long-term exposure to the active form of the drug.
Prototypes of the sunscreen are currently being tested in the laboratory using three dimensional human skin cultures. A human clinical trial is expected in the next two to three years.