Researchers from Kings College in London have isolated a compound that they believe shields coral from ultraviolet rays, prompting speculation that coral eventually help yield a generation of sunscreen for humans. In a symbiotic relationship with the endangered Acropora coral, certains kinds of algae release a compound as a defense against sun exposure. Fish that feed on the coral receive sun-protection benefits as well, which has led Dr. Paul Long and a group of collaborators to hypothosize that the same effect could be seen in humans. If sythesizing the compound in a lab is successful, Long estimates that a pill could be produced within five years. "We couldn't and wouldn't want to use the coral itself as it is an endangered species,” he said. The pill could have benefits for the coral as well; coral reefs are often damaged by sunscreen that washes off of swimmers.
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