The sun is a good source of Vitamin D which is very important to the body. On the other hand, overexposure to the heat of the sun can lead to skin cancer. Thus, doctors advise people to put on some sunscreen for protection. Recently, nanotechnologists have developed a sunscreen that produces melanin.
Scientists and researchers from the University of California - San Diego revealed that they developed a sunscreen that acts like melanosomes, skin cells that produce melanin and protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation.
Nathan Gianneschi, head of the research and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, materials science and engineering and nanoengineering at UC San Diego, said the research started after they discovered that they can produce synthetic melanin-like nanoparticles and also behave like natural melanins found on bird feathers.
They also discovered that these synthetic melanosomes could be taken up by keratinocytes, the majority of skin cells found in the epidermis or outer skin. They studied how these melanin-like nanoparticles behave and found another surprising discovery - the synthetic melanosomes do not just spread on the skin like their natural counterparts but they also protect the skin DNA from getting damaged by ultraviolet radiation.
This nanotechnology breakthrough brings significant impact especially in the are of skin-related diseases, such as vitiligo and albinism, and their treatment. Gianneschi said that there haven't been any effective treatment for such diseases.
Vitiligo is caused when the immune system abnormally clears the melanocytes from the skin and ultimately stopping its production. Albinism, on the other hand, a genetic defect that is characterized by the absence of a copper-producing enzyme, tyrosinase, which is also responsible for producing melanin.
The researchers further stated that these melanin-like nanoparticles can be used for the development of novel therapies for melanin-defective related diseases.
The study was published in the ACS Central Science journal.