Better sunscreens coming to you from the Tropics and the Arctic

Better sunscreens coming to you from the Tropics and the Arctic

Natural ultraviolet blockers from Great Barrier Reef corals and bacteria found in the Trondheim Fjord in Norway may soon be appearing in broad spectrum sunblock.

"Dr. Mark York and his team at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the corals in the Great Barrier Reef have yielded special sunscreen filters that protect skin from both long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and shortwave (ultraviolet B) radiation within a single molecule.

That's important because existing sunscreens only absorb or reflect radiation in the UVB range (290 to 320 nanometers) and parts of the UVA range (320 to 400 nanometers). Until recently, UVB light was thought to be the only culprit in causing skin cancers and DNA damage because it harms the outer layers of the skin, where skin cancers normally occur."

And we have some competition from the climate extreme...

"Scientists at Norwegian research institute SINTEF, a light-absorbing pigment occurring in bacteria in the Trondheim fjord holds the answer."

Let's hope the 2 to 5 year timetable to availability holds true!

(The image shows sarcinaxanthin [UV blocking pigment] producing bacteria on agar plates)


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  • This can't come soon enough, hopefully when it arrives it will have an affordable price tag. My daughter has learned the hard way, having had a malignant melanoma that she thought was just a dark freckle excised. This was followed up with a much deeper cut into all the surrounding tissue to make sure it was all removed. She has also spoken with her Doctor about being tested specifically for CLL as both I and my brother have it, and her menopausal syptoms mimic some of my symptoms. For now the Doctor says count taken a year ago is not high enough to warrant specific testing. Hm'm I hope she's right, no doubt my daughter will keep it in mind in years to come.


  • Bub,

    In your reply to my question about organ donation, you mentioned that you were diagnosed after a large node appeared on your neck. The less common presentation of CLL - Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma (SLL), is characterised by swollen lymph nodes caused by clonal B-lymphocytes but normal B-lymphocyte levels (and an absence of clones) in peripheral blood. Hence it is usually diagnosed by a lymph node biopsy. SLL can progress to CLL as the clonal B-lymphocytes spread to the marrow and peripheral blood, etc. CLL experts arbitrarily decided on an ALC figure of 5 to differentiate CLL from SLL, but they are considered the same disease.

    When your daughter's doctor says the "count taken a year ago is not high enough to warrant specific testing", does that mean that your daughter's Absolute Lymphocyte Count is actually outside the normal range? If that's the case, then I'd encourage your daughter to push for a flow cytometry test to check if there are any B-lymphocyte clones causing the higher than normal count. I'm concerned that your daughter's doctor may not be aware of the SLL presentation.

    Then again, your daughter's ALC may be in the normal range, or if the levels are raised, this could be due to an infection when the blood test was taken, or it could be MBL - Monoclonal B-Lymphocytosis, which can be a precursor to CLL/SLL, to mention just a few possibilities, but given your family history, I'd consider this worth following up.

    I had a lump on my upper thigh years before my diagnosis and that was dismissed by my GP as nothing to be concerned about. After diagnosis with SLL/CLL, my haematologist told me it was a swollen lymph node. Other than occasional night sweats, growing fatigue and wounds sometimes taking longer to heal, I had no other symptoms. It was the investigation of a low neutrophil count in a blood test taken at a general checkup that led to my diagnosis. For that test, my ALC was just outside the normal range (4.3, cf upper limit of 3.5). In the subsequent four tests taken weekly while trying to find out why my neutrophils were tanking, my ALC was within the normal range and it took a year post diagnosis before they got into the CLL range.

    I hope that your daughter can get that further testing to hopefully put her mind at rest.


  • Thank you Neil,

    your input is really appreciated. It's very interesting that at diagnosis in 2010 my neutrophils were low at 2.70 just below normal range but Lymphocytes 9.2. Comsider myself one of the fortunate, as Neutrophils 3.50 and Lymphocytes 13.60 in June. Have to say as mentioned in a previous post, with such low readings I am surprised that I get so fatigued, and wonder how those with much higher counts manage to keep going. Still working out 6 early mornings a week so perhaps I'm not being realistic.

    Your comments particularly on MBL which I had not the experience/ knowledge to consider are very relevant and hopefully with the information you have provided my daughter will feel confident about going back to her doctor to get the more relevant facts about the previous test and if not happy, again request the full blood test. I hope so.

    Sorry to be a bit uneducated, but what is a flow cytometry test, or is that the blood results I get the print out of at the hospital ?

    Thanks again


  • If you think you're a bit uneducated not knowing what a flow cytometry test is, then you are in very good company. I've had a couple done and each time the phlebotomist had to look up what it was and what was required. One wasn't even sure that she could support testing this at a blood sample collection centre until she confirmed it with the central office. It is actually a way of looking more closely at your different lymphocytes that are all lumped together in the one count in your standard blood test.

    Your ALC includes T and B-Lymphoctyes plus Natural Killer cells, with B-Lymphocytes normally in the minority. Basically, if your ALC is abnormally high, flow cytometry is a way of determining what lymphocyte type is making up the majority and by looking at CD patterns, the specific leukaemia/lymphoma can be identified. Chaya Venkat describes it well thus:

    "All cells in your body have a number of special structures on their surfaces. These are given names “cluster designations” or “CD” numbers. Different cell types have different set of CD types present on their surface. All members of a given family of cells have the same set of CDs, a sort of family fingerprint."

    Read the section Phenotype: Devil is in the Details and in particular check out the table Immunophenotypic Fingerprint CD Markers for Variety of B-Cell Cancers at:

    I hope this helps your daughter. It isn't easy going back to a doctor and tactfully telling them they need to do better!


  • Thanks again, great site for people like me, that like plain English/Aussie explanations. Stopped reading when brain went 'lets read that again' but it's bookmarked for more visits. Although I am already wiser than I was there is much more I need to assimilate and organise in my head, but with the help I'm getting there.

    Now to prepare daughter to brave her GP !!


    PS. Haven't got our Summer down there have you ? :-(

  • Your summer here? I wish... Spring is showing signs of appearing, with wattle and almond blossom out, but yesterday only got to a maximum of 13C, which is rather cool for here. Our summer maximums are typically high 20's to mid 30's with very hot days getting into the low 40's, so spring and in particular autumn are the best seasons here.

    I suggest your daughter approach her GP for further testing on the basis that there looks to be a fair hereditary risk for her (this is a recognised risk factor in SLL/CLL) and that your presentation was initially more nodal than in the blood, so your daughter may still be developing it while having an ALC that is above normal but not markedly so. If your daughter is aware of any swollen lymph nodes, then that could also be a point for pushing for further testing (i.e lymph node biospy of a large swollen node), but that's not a given either, as it is possible to have large swollen nodes internally and not be aware of them. That's something to keep in mind if a CT scan is required for any reason.

    If your daughter is diagnosed with early SLL/CLL, as well as getting a monitoring process in place, it could help her with choosing career path changes as well as by helping her be better prepared for possible changes as the condition develops.

    By the way, SLL can be cured with radiation treatment to the affected lymph nodes, but for that, you need to catch it before it spreads beyond a few nodes.


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