Could UV-absorbent DNA layer replace sunscreen?

woman sunbathing and reading a book at the beach

Researchers have developed a DNA film that absorbs ultraviolet light more efficiently the longer it is exposed to it. This extra layer could be applied over the skin instead of sunscreen, potentially protecting it from the negative effects of sunburn, developers explain.

Every summer, we are bombarded with offers for the latest and best products to bring with us to our sun-kissed holiday destinations. From sunglasses to sunscreen and after-sun body lotions, drugstores display a wealth of eye and skincare products.

In the future, however, we may have other options to protect ourselves from the negative effect of the summer sun.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are emitted by the sun and they are the reason why we get tanned in the summer. They are also emitted by tanning beds. But UV rays are also very harmful to the skin, and they are a major risk factor for skin cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to UV rays can start causing harm to the skin within 15 minutes in the absence of protective layers and sunscreen.

Dr. Guy German, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and colleagues have designed a film layer made out of DNA capable of absorbing UV light and thus effectively protecting the wearer’s skin.