Woman in sun CC jill111

A new sunscreen additive could prevent cancer on an unprecedented scale by gripping and protecting skin cells like an “iron claw.”

Cell damage from sunlight is due to ultraviolet (UV) radiation that comes in two forms: UVA and UVB. Most sunscreens protect very effectively from UVB light, but few work well against UVA light.

Researchers in the UK have discovered a compound they’re calling ‘mito-iron claw’ that provides never before seen levels of protection against UVA radiation.

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Their discovery provides protection from inside the cells where the most damage occurs, but without harming those cells. Researchers who developed it at the University of Bath and at Kings College London believe their mitoiron claw can be added to regular sunscreen formulas within three or four years.

Their discovery gets its name because of the way it works — attaching itself to free iron in cells like a claw.

Iron works like a battery in cells, powering multiple vital functions. But when that iron is exposed to UVA, it turns into a catalyst for producing reactive oxygen species (ROS) — which damages DNA and other cell components, increasing the risk of cancer.

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The mitoiron claw’s grip prevents that from happening, protecting the iron in the cell from reacting with UVA light.

The UK researchers exposed human skin cells in their lab to the equivalent of 140 minutes of sunlight at sea level. Cells treated with the mitoiron claw showed no signs of damage, while untreated cells showed significant cell death.

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“The role of iron-mediated damage induced upon exposure of skin cells to UVA has been underestimated for many years,” Dr. Charareh Pourzand, one of the University of Bath researchers said. “This mitoiron claw is a highly effective compound, offering unprecedented protection against UVA-induced mitochondrial damage.”

Researchers published their findings in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. (Above Photo by jill111, CC)

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