Next-generation sunscreens

With £51,000 of funding from Nstar, UK-startup DNAcare Systems is developing a new type of sunscreen that can protect the DNA of the skin from overexposure to the sun.

A new company, DNAcare Systems, is to be formed at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK to develop a new type of sunscreen that can protect the DNA of the skin.

Currently sunscreens are rated for their ability to prevent sunburn but not for their ability to protect against DNA damage. But research has shown that levels of sunlight not strong enough to cause sunburn can still damage the skin’s DNA.

The new sunscreen will be developed based on research by skin cancer expert Dr. Mark Birch-Machin and his colleagues at the University. Birch-Machin has developed a pioneering test for sunburnt DNA which can show DNA damage to skin over time.

To further the development of the idea, DNAcare Systems was recently granted £51,000 from the Proof of Concept Fund run by Nstar, the independent early technology funding company based in the North East of England.

What’s more, the Newcastle University scientists are also in early stage discussions with several major cosmetic companies to create the sunscreen, which will be specifically designed with the DNA protection level in mind.

“We hope to convince the industry to introduce a DNA rating for all sunscreens, as we are convinced this will contribute to reducing the cases of skin cancer,” said Dr. Birch-Machin, a reader in molecular dermatology with Newcastle University’s School of Clinical and Laboratory Sciences.