Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Professor Receives Grant to Develop Chemical Compounds for Protection from the Sun
ALBANY, NY. – September 19, 2011 – Martha Hass, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the School of Arts and Sciences at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, has received a three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health in the amount of $453,896. She will be developing a series of chemical compounds that could prove instrumental in limiting the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Sunscreen products available today are designed to block UV radiation so that it never hits the skin. But if the sunscreen wears off, it can leave the skin vulnerable to damage ranging from sunburn to scarring. Dr. Hass is working to prepare a series of new chemical compounds that would be absorbed into the epidermis (outer layer of skin) and protect the skin against damage caused by UV radiation. The compounds are designed to be “trapped” inside the skin, and though they metabolize over time, they are not washed off like conventional sunscreens. Successful formulation of these compounds into lotions or creams may lead to products that could serve as effective complements to sunscreen by providing a second layer of UV protection.
The compounds, referred to as codrugs, are derived from Vitamin E and lipoic acid. Vitamin E and lipoic acid are non-toxic, naturally-occurring antioxidants, but their ability to protect against the damage caused by UV radiation is limited by two key factors: (1) they are absorbed into the skin at different rates, and (2) their instability causes them to quickly break down in the presence of heat and light. The new compounds proposed in the grant incorporate a design that helps address each of these limitations, in addition to enhancing the antioxidant effectiveness of both Vitamin E and lipoic acid.
Dr. Hass’ initial research has shown that combinations of Vitamin E analogs with lipoic acid (or its derivatives), exhibit superior antioxidant properties, above and beyond what would be expected from using the two compounds independently (i.e., it’s a 1 + 1 = 3 effect). The novelty of these new codrugs is that they deliver the two antioxidants as a single molecule to the skin, and upon absorption, Vitamin E and lipioic acid are simultaneously released to provide synergistic antioxidant activity.
Quotes from Dr. Hass
“Both Vitamin E and lipoic acid are effective antioxidants independent of each other, but when the two compounds are combined into a single molecule, the result is enhanced chemical stability and the opportunity for the two antioxidants to act synergistically inside the skin.”
“Compounds synthesized from Vitamin E and lipoic acid could not only be used as a complement to sunscreen, but because of their antioxidant properties, they would also have the potential to treat other skin diseases and perhaps be incorporated into cosmetic products.”
Dr. Hass will be collaborating with Luciana Lopes, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and J. Andrew Carlson, M.D., a professor and pathodermatologist at Albany Medical College. ACPHS students from both undergraduate and graduate programs will also be active contributors to the project.
The project described was supported by Award Number 1R15AR060008-01A1 from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases or the National Institutes of Health.
About Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Founded in 1881, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is a private, independent institution committed to the advancement of health. The College possesses all of the qualities for an outstanding education, including diverse academic programs, modern facilities, and distinguished faculty. In addition to its doctor of pharmacy program, ACPHS offers three bachelor’s programs and six graduate programs in the health sciences. The College’s main campus is located in Albany, New York; its satellite campus is in Colchester, Vermont.