A local researcher says he has developed a sunscreen that can be taken as a pill and is composed entirely of natural vitamins already present in the human body.
Dr. Barry Barclay of Planet Biotechnology Inc., a company he started 14 years, said the third clinical trial testing the effectiveness of the product, NatraShade, is currently under way in Australia.
Barclay, who has lived in St. Albert for 10 years, has been developing the pill for the last eleven years.
He said he’s spent about $1 million to take out two patents, one in the United States and one in Australia. Barclay said he could not afford to take out a similar patent in Canada.
He said the patents are for a combination of vitamins that work with the body to prevent sun damage.
“It’s a natural sunscreen, it doesn’t have any chemicals in it whatsoever,” he explained.
He said NatraShade will be available in a lotion as well as a pill.
“We can go out onto the market as an additive too but I feel very strongly that I’d like to get away from the chemicals … there is some very bad stuff out there,” he said.
A molecular biologist who has worked at Concordia University, the Cross Cancer Institute and the University of Alberta, Barclay said he attributes his discovery to lot of hard work and luck.
He said the product has been tested here in Canada, including on his own children.
He said a group of nurses who took NatraShade over a period of time noticed a change in the appearance of fine lines – caused by UV damage – on their skin.
“This stuff actually reversed some of those wrinkles,” Barclay said.
The formula is currently up to an SPF of 8 but Barclay said he would like to increase that to an SPF of 15.
He said the Australian government has been extremely helpful in getting his product tested because skin cancer is huge problem among Australians.
“In Queensland, Australia, in the south, the probability of getting skin cancer by the time you’re my age, in your 60s, is 100 per cent among Caucasians,” he said.
He said his product is currently being tested by a third party, arm’s-length testing lab for the Australian government.
Barclay said many sunscreen products on the market contain xenoestrogens that, like phthalates, can cause a number of women’s health issues, including infertility.
“There is some evidence that they are a risk factor in breast cancer. There is some evidence that they do all kinds of reproductive harm in women,” Barclay said.
“Why the hell they just banned phthalates in children and not for general consumption, especially in women, escapes me.”
He said up to 80 per cent of commercial products in the sunscreen business contain either harmful chemicals or don’t live up to the claims marketers are using.
NatraShade, he said, has been shown to work within 90 minutes and last at least three hours.
Unlike a sunscreen lotion or spray, taking a sunscreen pills mean all areas of the skin are covered, Barclay said.
“No matter how you put on a lotion or a spray, you’re going to miss spots,” he said.
Barclay said it has been especially difficult getting support for NatraShade here at home.
As a member of the regional economic development committee for St. Albert, he said more co-operation is needed between business leaders, academia and government.
“I’ve had more help from the Australian government in the last 10 months than I have from the Alberta government in the last 10 years,” Barclay said.
He recently completed a licence deal with an Australian company and said he expects a royalty stream to begin in the coming months.
Barclay said he intends to use a significant portion of the profits generated by NatraShade to further breast cancer research.