Scientists find substance which could help skin stay looking younger

Sussex cricketer William Beer under ultraviolet light highlight the damage sun does to your skin

Sussex cricketer William Beer under ultraviolet light highlight the damage sun does to your skin

First published in NHS & Health News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Health & Education Editor

RESEARCHERS from the North-East have identified a substance which offers total protection against some types of sun damage and may ultimately help skin stay looking younger for longer.

Publishing in The FASEB Journal, the Newcastle University team describe how in laboratory tests, they compared the protection offered against either UVA radiation or free radical stress by several antioxidants, some of which are found in foods or cosmetics.

While UVB radiation easily causes sunburn, UVA radiation penetrates deeper, damaging our DNA by generating free radicals which degrades the collagen that gives skin its elastic quality.

The Newcastle team found that the most potent anti-oxidants were those that targeted the batteries of the skin cells, known as the mitochondria.

They compared these mitochondrial-targeted anti-oxidants to other non-specific antioxidants such as resveratrol, found in red wine, and curcumin found in curries, that target the entire cell.

They found that the most potent mitochondrial targeted anti-oxidant was Tiron which provided 100 percent protection of the skin cell against UVA sun damage and the release of damaging enzymes causing stress-induced damage.

Author, Mark Birch-Machin, professor of molecular dermatology at Newcastle University said: "To discover that Tiron offers complete protection against UVA damage is exciting and promising, however, it is early days as Tiron is not a naturally occurring compound and has not yet been tested for toxicity in humans although there have been a few studies on rats."

Of the work which was funded by BBSRC and Unilever, co-author at Newcastle University Dr Anne Oyewole said: "This finding on Tiron provides us with a platform to study an antioxidant - preferably a naturally occurring compound with a similar structure which could then be safely added to food or cosmetics."

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