This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Last updated at 16:19 BST, Friday, 02 September 2011

Coral may help sunburn prevention


2 September 2011

Researchers in Britain say they have found evidence that chemicals present in underwater coral could help protect humans against sunburn. They hope to be able to make a sunscreen pill.

Tom Esslemont


Many ignore warnings over sunburn


Click to hear the report:


Coral is an animal that thrives in shallow water, where it can absorb vital sunlight, but that also makes it vulnerable to strong ultraviolet rays.

It's long been known that algae living inside coral produces a sunscreen that protects it. But the team from King's College in London says this is the first time they have got close to using that chemical to create something similar for humans.

After studying samples from the Great Barrier Reef they found that fish feeding off the coral are also able to withstand powerful ultraviolet rays, leading them to believe that the protective amino acids - the key ingredient - pass up the food chain.

Tests on human skin could take place within two years, though the scientists say it could take them a lot longer to work out whether the protective chemical can be turned into tablet form.

Tom Esslemont, BBC News


Click to hear the vocabulary:


thrives in

grows well in


take in

vulnerable to

in an area that can be reached by

ultraviolet rays

a type of light radiation from the sun that can cause cell damage

feeding off


to withstand

to resist the possible damage from

protective amino acids

substances in the body that make protein and in this case are important in preventing damage cause by the sun's rays

pass up the food chain

transfer from small organisms to bigger ones when they are eaten

to work out

to find out



  1. Home
  2. Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation
  3. Words in the News
  4. Coral may help sunburn prevention