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STTR Phase II:Scaling the Purification of Mycosporine-like Amino Acids to Replace Chemical Ultraviolet (UV) Filters and Protect Human and Environmental Health.

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2222582
Agency Tracking Number: 2222582
Amount: $937,595.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: CT
Solicitation Number: NSF 22-552
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-04-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2025-03-31
Small Business Information
16363 Skyline Boulevard
Woodside, CA 94062
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 David Smernoff
 (650) 722-2063
Business Contact
 David Smernoff
Phone: (650) 722-2063
Research Institution
 Arizona State University
TEMPE, AZ 85281
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

The broader impact of this Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II project will be to bring a new class of full spectrum Ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) protective materials to market.Current chemical sunscreen ingredients raise health concerns for consumers.Additionally, some ingredients are banned for causing potential damage to coral reef ecosystems. Consumers increasingly want products that are safe for them and for the planet, and that are aesthetically pleasing. This project will explore ways to meet the growing demand for better sunscreen ingredients that are produced sustainably.This team will investigate methods to cost-effectively extract naturally-occurring materials from photosynthetic bacteria that can replace current chemical and mineral sunscreen active ingredients.These will also replace a significant portion of the UV filter ingredients. Sunscreens and other related products that might use these naturally occurring, safe, and effective ingredients will help people reduce UV damage to their skin and help reduce skin cancer (including deadly melanoma) and ameliorate skin aging. The project supports the US economy by creating jobs in the algae biotechnology field and in the cosmetic industry including testing, manufacturing, distribution, and sales. _x000D_
The technical innovation at the core of this proposal is to improve the yield and reduce the cost of extracting mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) from a complex mixture of compounds contained within cyanobacterial cells (or other MAA producing organisms). Small volumes of MAAs are currently obtained using expensive and hazardous solvents and expensive equipment. The innovation is focused on the use of synthetic nucleotides (aptamers) to selectively bind to the MAAs and purify them from a cell lysate. Mycosporine-like amino acids arose on early Earth to protect microbes from harmful UV radiation. Their prevalence and longevity substantiate their value in protecting cells from UV radiation and other forms of oxidative stress. Their presence in the Earth’s oceans for millennia speaks to their safety in marine ecosystems and suggests their safety for use on human skin; Safety will be verified using standard pre-clinical tests. Technical hurdles include the isolation and identification of the specific MAAs produced, identifying aptamers that are highly specific for the MAAs produced, determining MAA yield from several purification processes and assessing process scalability. These data will be compared to other isolation techniques (filtration and chromatography) to assess comparative yields and economic performance._x000D_
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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