Sun damage is caused by UVA and UVB rays, with sun cream mostly protecting against UVB. New research, led by groups at the University of Bath, King’s College London and Brunel University London, demonstrated that skin cells taken from people with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) were more susceptible to damage caused by UVA rays, compared to control cells taken from people without FA. FA causes higher levels of iron in mitochondria, due to the lack of frataxin protein. This research showed that UVA rays are more damaging to cells containing high amounts of iron.

Furthermore, these researchers showed that a custom-built molecule, which acts like a claw to scoop up excess iron, could be used to prevent the damage caused by UVA. In the future, the researchers would like to see this molecule added to sun creams, in order to enhance their protective effect against UVA rays.

Professor Giunti, from the London ataxia clinic, says ‘while this is interesting research, it’s important to note that it has only been shown on cells in a laboratory, and further research is required before changing advice about sun exposure’.

See an announcement about this research from the University of Bath here, and access the journal article here.