Using pulses of laser light, researchers at Ohio State University were able to observe for the first time how the body heals itself after sunburn.
Tiny molecules called photolyases usually heal the damage caused by ultraviolet light exposure. Sunburn is caused when ultraviolet light damages skin beyond repair, causing DNA to die. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ohio State physicist and chemist Dongping Zhong took "snapshots" of photolyases in action in order to observe how the molecules repair DNA. Up to this point, researchers have always had to attach a fluorescent marker molecule to photolyases, which may have interfered with its natural motion.
"Now that we have accurately mapped the motions of a photolyase at the site of DNA repair, we can much better understand DNA repair at the atomic scale, and we can reveal the entire repair process with unprecedented detail." Zhong hopes that by understanding how photolyases, scientists can eventually develop a treatment that repairs DNA damaged by UV light.
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