New Compounds May Extend Efficiency of Sunscreens Interview with: Dr. Diego Sampedro PhD

Dr. Diego Sampedro Interview with:
Dr. Diego Sampedro PhD
Department of Chemistry, Centro de Investigación en Síntesis Química (CISQ)
Universidad de La Rioja
Logroño, Spain What is the background for this study?

Response: Skin cancer is currently the most common type of cancer. While it implies a relatively low mortality rate, the reported cases of all types of skin cancer have been steadily increasing for the last decades. The ozone layer depletion and longer sunlight exposure times due to outdoors activities contribute to this increase. Solar light is well-known to lead to several skin cellular problems, including DNA damage, mutations, oxidative stress, sunburn and immune suppression. These deleterious effects of sunlight may be mitigated by the use of sunscreens.

Sunscreens are inorganic or organic substances that are directly applied onto the skin, designed to minimize light transmission into the skin, mainly in the ultraviolet region of the solar spectrum. However, serious concerns exist about the safety of several commercial sunscreens components, as well as several drawbacks due to the lack of stability, biodegradability and effectiveness for skin protection. Thus, the development of new (and more efficient) types of sunscreens is of critical importance with a great potential impact in public health and industrial applications. What are the main findings?

Response: We rationally designed a new series of efficient sunscreens inspired in natural-occurring compounds. Inspired in the chemical structures of mycosporine-like aminoacids, a well-known family of photoprotective natural compounds present in diverse organisms, we have designed and synthesized a whole new type of tuneable potential sunscreens components. These compounds have shown an extraordinary stability and complete lack of free radical formation. Inclusion of these species in real formulations for sunscreens yielded an impressive boost in the Solar Protection Factor (SPF). What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The necessity to protect ourselves from the damaging effects of sunlight and the urgent need to prepare new sunscreens with improved properties with respect to the available commercial products. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: There is a lot of room for improvement in the performance of current sunscreen formulations. New compounds with adequate properties and different photoprotection mechanisms are clearly needed. As a first step, the reported compounds should be tested and eventually approved for use in real formulations. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Hopefully, our results should encourage the research in the field both in terms of understanding the properties of sunscreens at the molecular level and the preparation and use of new, more efficient compounds. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Losantos, R., Funes-Ardoiz, I., Aguilera, J., Herrera-Ceballos, E., García-Iriepa, C., Campos, P. J. and Sampedro, D. (2017), Rational Design and Synthesis of Efficient Sunscreens To Boost the Solar Protection Factor. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.. doi: 10.1002/anie.201611627

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on February 3, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD