Nov. 25 - British scientists have created a molecule they say could greatly improve the effectiveness of sun-screens and reduce the incidence of skin cancer. Whereas most sun-screens protect against exposure to short-wave, ultraviolet B rays, the scientists are targetting long-wave UVA rays which they say cause just as much damage. Jim Drury reports.
Increasingly aware of the risks presented by sun-bathing, most people slap on sunscreen before getting to work on their tan. But while most suncreens will protect against short wave, ultra-violet B rays, they don't block longer wave, UVA rays, even though UVA is 50 times more prevalent.. Scientists at the University of Bath however, say they have the answer. They've created new molecules in their lab that filter UVA. The new compounds are light activated. When exposed to UVA light, they capture excess iron in the skin that produce dangerous free radicals, molecules that can help cause skin cancer. Study co-author Dr Ian Eggleston...... SOUNDBITE (English) DR IAN EGGLESTON, MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY LECTURER AT UNIVERSITY OF BATH, SAYING: "The new compounds that we've developed as potential novel compounds for suncreams are what we called caged iron chelators, so these are molecules that are designed to mop up the harmful iron, which is released in cells on exposure to UVA radiation. So what's special about our compounds is that they only bind iron when they're activated by a harmful dose of UVA light." UVA has long been known to influence skin ageing and wrinkling, but only recently have scientists demonstrated its role in skin cancer. These long wave rays make up 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface, and penetrate the skin more deeply than short wave UV. Global skin cancer rates are rising and study co-author Dr Charareh Pourzand says formulating these new molecules into sunscreens could reverse the trend.. SOUNDBITE (English) DR CHARAREH POURZAND, LECTURER IN PHARMACEUTICS AT UNIVERSITY OF BATH, SAYING: "These compounds can be added as compound ingredients for sunscreen formulation, but they can also be ingredients in the skin cream products because on a daily basis you get exposed to the sun, so you will have at all times some endogenous protection basically against UVA of sunlight." Laboratory tests of the chemicals on human skin cells provided protection against the equivalent of at least three hours full exposure of UVA rays. The team will now work with formulation chemists and dermatologists to find a way to include the compounds in sunscreens of the future.