Mimicking corals' natural sun protection
Biotechnology company Coral Sunscreen, studied the results of over 20 years of research into how shallow-water corals protect themselves from UV light.
The company then approached us, as they wanted to find a way to convert this natural method of coping with exposure to the intensive UV rays from Queensland's sunshine, into a safe and effective sunscreen for human use.
Creating safe, stable UV filters
We spent two years adapting the coral's sunscreen code so that it can be safely used as an ingredient in human sunscreen.
The molecular make up of the coral's natural sunscreen filter is quite complex, but the real challenge for us was modifying it so that it was resistant to both UVA and UVB radiation in one molecule, creating unique filters that are clear in colour, virtually odourless and very stable.
The research was undertaken through a Department of Industry grant program, which places scientists into industry to assist Australian research and development projects.
A new wave of sunscreens
The breakthrough paves the way for a new generation of sunscreens which harness the same protective barriers developed by Australia's Great Barrier Reef corals over millions of years to survive in the harsh Australian sun.
The new UV filters are resistant to both UVA and UVB rays and are clear and colourless which means they can be used in any cream emulsion.
The broad spectrum coral sunscreen filters are expected to be available to consumers across the globe in coming years.