Coral could hold key to sunscreen pill

Researchers led by Dr. Paul Long from King's College London have identified how coral protects itself and its symbiotic algae from harmful solar ultraviolet light. 

"What we have found is that the algae living within the coral makes a compound that we think is transported to the coral, which then modifies it into a sunscreen for the benefit of both the coral and the algae.

Not only does this protect them both from UV damage, but we have seen that fish that feed on the coral also benefit from this sunscreen protection, so it is clearly passed up the food chain."

Work is underway to develop a lotion than can be applied to the skin or even a pill containing a form of these compounds.  The compounds may also be useful in agriculture, extending the range of temperate plants into tropical areas.

Additional information is available Sunscreen pill could be available within five year, scientists say (The Guardian) and Tropical coral could be used to create novel sunscreens for human use, say scientists (EurekaAlert, King's College London press release).  None of the articles referenced any papers.  The closest one I could find was:

Gene Expression in the Scleractinian Acropora microphthalma Exposed to High Solar Irradiance Reveals Elements of Photoprotection and Coral Bleaching
Antonio Starcevic,1 Walter C. Dunlap,2 John Cullum,3 J. Malcolm Shick,4 Daslav Hranueli,1 and Paul F. Long5*

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