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Bacteria promises new allergy-free sunscreen

October 27, 2011 - Washington

Scientists are hoping to develop allergy-free sunscreen creams from a substance found in certain bacteria.

Sunscreen use has increased with the awareness that radiation emitted by the sun can give rise to Skin cancer. But these creams can give rise to contact allergy when exposed to the sun, and this has led to an increasing incidence of skin allergies.

Now, scientists at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology are looking for a natural UV filter that does not have these undesired effects.

"Unfortunately, several of the chemical UV filters used in sunscreens cause contact allergy, either of themselves or when they are exposed to sunlight," said Isabella Karlsson, research student in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Gothenburg.

"We have therefore studied a UV filter, scytonemin, that is found in certain bacteria. We have managed to produce this substance artificially in the laboratory," she stated.

Scytonemin is produced by certain cyanobacteria that live in habitats exposed to very strong sunlight.

Scytonemin absorbs UV light and thus protects the bacteria from being damaged by the sun's radiation.

However, more research will be required before it can be added to sunscreen creams.


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