New pill may protect you from the sun

It would be a revolution for the sun protection industry, a pill that could protect the skin and eyes from the harmful effect of the suns UV rays, which cause sunburn. A recent scientific study has discovered the way that coral shields itself from these rays. Scientists believe this discovery could make a sun protection pill a reality.

A compound is close to being produced by scientists and should be available within the next five years. The pill will have to be prescription only as taking too much of the pill can be harmful to the body. Additionally some exposure to UV rays is essential for humans as this is how our bodies produce vitamin D – which makes our body have strong bones.

Coral survives because it has algae living inside it, this algae is the key to how to coral protects itself from the sun’s rays. The project is being run by Kings College London, with funding from the taxpayer, and is headed by Dr Paul Long who has said, “What we have discovered is that the algae make the sun protecting compounds, which the coral then takes and converts into a substance that will protect both organisms from the rays.

“We also found that when a fish would eat the coral, they would also become resistant to the sun’s rays. It is this that makes us think that if we can manufacture the compound and give it to humans it will have the same effect as was had on the fish. We should be able to begin testing within two years. Early testing will involve the compound being tested on human skin samples that we will obtain from cosmetic surgeons.”

The team worked with coral samples from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. They would harvest samples at night and then expose them to sunlight in the day so they could see how the sun protection compound is produced by the coral.

Dr Long has also said, “Our goal is to make a pill that, once taken, will provide sun protection to the whole of the body. We will, of course, have to conduct extensive testing before any such pill could be released, so it will be five years before anything could enter the market.”

This discovery could not only benefit people but crops could be genetically engineered to be resistant to the sun. This could boost world food production as temperate crops that survive only with little sun exposure could be grown in tropical regions. Long has said of this possibility, “This could allow for high yield crops with high nutritional values to be grown in parts of the developing world.”