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article imageCould the next gen sunscreen be made from bacteria?

By Tim Sandle     Aug 11, 2013 in Science
Scientists have discovered a microorganism living in Trondheim Fjord that could potentially provide better protection against skin cancer and malignant melanomas than most commercially available suntan lotions.
Norwegian researchers, working for the organization SINTEF, have found a bacterium called Micrococcus luteus living in the Trondheim Fjord with special properties. Ordinarily, M. luteus is not all that remarkable and most people carry it on their skin. However, this new type has a special pigment that can absorb long-wavelength UV radiation (in the range 350-475 nanometres).
Long-wavelength ultra-violet (U.V.) radiation is linked to many forms of skin cancer and malignant melanomas. The World Health Organization notes that lLong-wavelength U.V. accounts for approximately 95 per cent of the UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface. It can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and is responsible for the immediate tanning effect. Currently, there are no sunscreens on the market able to filter out this type of radiation.
This recent round of "bioprospecting" (the exploration for organisms in the natural environment ), has found the bacterium with naturally-occurring light-absorbing pigments, which could potentially be added to an advanced sunscreen theoretically capable of blocking out the more harmful U.V. radiation. The bacterium contains a particular carotenoid, known as sarcinaxanthin. Carotenoids are membrane-protective antioxidant pigments produced by plants, algae, fungi and bacteria.
Additionally, the researchers hope that the pigment will act as an effective anti-wrinkle agent.
More about suncreen, Bacteria, Sun, sun tan, Suntan lotion
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