Second-chance sunblock

Author: Notre Dame Magazine


A team of chemists at Notre Dame has synthesized an enzyme that they say could undo sun damage to skin — even years after exposure — and prevent the development of skin cancer.

The enzyme targets a cancer-triggering molecule that forms in DNA after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. So far the researchers have evidence that the enzyme can recognize and break up the molecule outside of DNA.

“The question is, can we do it in a real piece of DNA,” says Olaf Wiest, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and leader of the research team.

The researchers say they expect to test the enzyme in DNA this year, and they are optimistic about the results. But they caution that it would be at least 10 years before a product could come to market that would be able to repair DNA damage caused by the sun. Also, they say the enzyme would be effective only if used before skin cancer had taken hold.

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry