I was reading about some really interesting developments in sun protection the other day. I am not entirely sure how I feel about them but they are interesting none the less. Scientists have developed what looks to be the first fully natural sun protection by developing nano particles which mimic the behaviour of natural melanosomes (melanin producing cells). Melanosomes protect our skin, eyes and other tissues from ultraviolet radiation.
Naturally our skin produces melanin nano particles. Melanin is delivered to keratinocytes, the cells found in the epidermis (outer layers of skin) after being excreted as melanosomes from melanoyctes. It is very difficult to directly extract nano particles from nature however, the scientist found ways of creating a synthetic version that was bio-compatible. They studied the melanin-like nano particles for update, transport, distribution and ultra violet radiation protective capacity for the skin. It was hoped that they could help cure conditions like Vitiligo or albinism, which are caused defects in melanin production. The former being an auto immune disease and the latter a genetic defect in tryosinase, an enzyme involved in the production of melanin.
The researchers discovered that these synthetic nanoparticles were not only taken up and distributed normally, like natural melanosomes, within the keratinocytes, they protected the skin cells from DNA damage as a result of ultraviolet radiation.
The authors stated in their paper “Considering limitations in the treatment of melanin-defective related diseases and the biocompatibility of these synthetic melanin-like nanoparticles in terms of uptake and degradation, these systems have potential as artificial melanosomes for the development of novel therapies, possibly supplementing the biological functions of natural melanins,”
Who knows, maybe we will see sun creams made with these synthetic melanin nano particles one day?