Hawaii-based Cyanotech Corporation has been granted a new US patent covering the prevention of sunburn by UV light using natural and synthetic astaxanthin.
The patent covers both oral and topical applications of astaxanthin, and is the third United States patent Cyanotech has received for the protective properties of astaxanthin.
Cyanotech produces natural astaxanthin for its BioAstin dietary supplements, and applied for the patent after its research showed that consuming the supplement for two weeks significantly increased the duration of ultraviolet light exposure required to create sunburn.
Natural astaxanthin, the active ingredient in BioAstin, has already been shown to be a potent antioxidant over 500 times stronger than vitamin E and 10 times stronger than beta-carotene, the company said. Astaxanthin has also been shown to enhance and modulate the immune system, an it is these effects in combination or separately which Cyanotech said might reduce the acute inflammation reaction of the skin and tissue just beneath the skin that follows excessive exposure to UV radiation, in turn leading to sunburn.
"Products acting to retard or prevent sunburn comprise a market estimated at more than $500 million annually," said Gerald R. Cysewski, Cyanotech's CEO. "The potential of BioAstin natural astaxanthin in both topical and oral sunscreen applications may prove to be significant as suncare companies like Sea & Ski have introduced multiple-ingredient topical products containing natural astaxanthin. Additionally, three European companies are now selling or developing oral or topical sunscreen products using BioAstin."
Cyanotech Corporation produces natural products from microalgae, and is the world's largest commercial producer of natural astaxanthin from that source.