July is notorious for the beaming rays and hot summer weather. Luckily our atmosphere protects most harmful rays, but still ultraviolet radiation (UV waves) can lead to sunburns, premature aging of the skin, suppression of the immune system, eye damage and most dangerously: skin cancer.
Obviously, there are simple precautions you can take to protect yourself from the rays; such as wearing sunscreen and re-applying it throughout the day as well as wearing proper clothing. The biotech industry is looking for ways to harness biological processes and incorporate them into sunscreens. Last August, microalgae specimen were genetically engineered to protect human skin from broad scale wavelengths, including the most harmful UVA radiation. There also have been efforts to harnessing natural UV protection methods that corals in the Great Barrier Reef use. Maybe through the use of biotechnology, sunscreens can eliminate some customer concerns and protect skin from a larger range of the UV spectrum.
Biotechnology has the potential to access these evolutionary perfected biological processes to identify healthy, sustainable and innovative ways to solve everyday problems.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares July as National UV Safety Month, sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, to encourage to protect ourselves from the threats of excessive exposure from UV light.
Source: Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), press release, 2014-07-16.
Author: Kathryn Mueller