In Brief

Scientists studying the Great Barrier Reef have discovered a natural sunscreen compound in Acropora coral that could lead to a sunscreen pill.

Researchers at King’s College London have discovered the unique way coral protects itself from harmful ultraviolet rays which lead scientists to believe these compounds could form the basis of a new type of sunscreen for humans. The team studied samples of the endangered Acropora coral in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and have begun to uncover the genetic and biochemical processes behind how these compounds are formed so that they could synthetically recreate them in the laboratory. ‘We couldn’t and wouldn’t want to use the coral itself as it is an endangered species,’ Dr. Paul Long explains.

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