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Think of a non-conventional sun protection product or a method

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jnikola Nov 15, 2022
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Imagine being on a beach on a desert island. You have no clothes, no sunscreen or a shade that you can hide under. Can you design a product that would help you?
Product criteria
  • you cannot put any clothes on
  • you cannot use regular sunscreen sprays or creams
  • you cannot hide in any shade
  • you can apply/use it anyhow and anytime (before, after)
The product can range from a smartwatch, app or gadget that reduces the damage to your skin by creating a UV shield around you, to food, or a genetically engineered gut microbiome that enables you to stay in the sun. Whatever crosses your mind could be or is already proven to work. Free your mind!

  • practicality - there should be another way of protecting your beach body without oily and sticky sunscreen sprays and creams
  • safety - although the main source of energy for living organisms, the sun can be very harmful
  • necessity - skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US
  • huge potential - although still far, solutions to this challenge could pave the way towards solving bigger issues related to cosmic radiance and Mars's inhabitance
Creative contributions

futuristic wearable around the neck

Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain Nov 15, 2022
I imagine something like a simple wearable necklace that can protect you from UV rays by creating a holographic film around your body. I don't have any idea how that might work, I am just being ultra-creative in principle! I imagine the device operating on a charged battery, emitting some kind of biocompatible radiation that can either absorb/cancel UV rays.
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jnikola2 years ago
Very cool and just in the range of contributions I wanted you to come up with! Let's continue this flow of creative thoughts.
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Edible proto-sunscreen

Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain Nov 17, 2022
The idea here is to develop a biocompatible proto-drug, that once ingested, can last in the body for a certain period of time without any toxicity, and upon exposure to the sunlight, can protect against ultraviolet light, especially the light in the UVB range. Some key points from a first principles approach: -Present-day sunscreen products are useful by the virtue of two categories of ingredients: the physical barrier compounds (Zinc Oxide, for example), and the chemical dampeners (aminobenzoic acid, avobenzone, etc). Both of these categories basically don't let the UVB light reach the dermis layer of skin either by physically reflecting it away or by absorbing it. Hence, the idea here is to come up with an edible/ingestable version of a precursor molecule that could be taken as a drug, and only after we come in contact with the sunlight the precursor changes into the actual 'blocker/dampener' molecule. Think of this final molecule as a Zinc oxide analog. In principle, biology allows such a conversion because this is exactly how Vitamin D is activated in our body.
-How to approach the design of this drug? To start with, since the drug (final molecule) is expected to work as a sunscreen, the most important feature of the drug should be its tissue specific. The protodrug should effectively localise in the skin cells. We might leverage the melatonin molecule that is unique to skin cell, and design the protodrug for melatonin-tropism. (The idea, I concede, is kind of crazy, but at least should work in theory!)
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jnikola2 years ago
Check this paper suggesting that Thymoquinone, extract from Nigella sativa seeds, protects human skin keratinocytes against UVA-irradiated oxidative stress, inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Maybe we could test them to see if it's them or some of their metabolites that provide the mentioned protection from UV. Maybe the experiment with mouth, stomach, bowel, or liver enzyme extracts applied to the compound before applying it to cells.
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jnikola2 years ago
Very cool idea! I think that, although crazy, there could be something interesting behind it. I searched the "edible sunscreen" a bit and found a few interesting examples.
  • The edible Tan Gummies - gummy bears that enhance your tanning. It's not an SPF, but since the gummies get dissolved and absorbed in the mouth cavity, constituents, such as Copper (for the maintenance of normal skin pigmentation), Vitamin E (to help protect the skin from oxidative stress), Vitamin C (to help with the formation of collagen in the skin), Zinc and Riboflavin (for the maintenance of normal skin), they supposedly offer better tanning. In my opinion, they play on the deliver-the-proto-tanning-components-where-you-need-them card, the same one you are mentioning!
  • A drinkable sunscreen from UVO, Osmosis Skincare and Harmonized Water - they contain vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as niacin, folate, biotin, zinc, selenium, polypodium leucotomos (a fern extract), lycopene (found in tomatoes), etc.
Both approaches had received some heavy judgment (like this one) or lawsuits and did not reach high popularity. However, there is some hope that we could soon find a way to protect ourselves from the UV rays "from the inside". That's why I think this is a great idea!


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