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Jul 8, 2020

New biomaterial could shield against harmful radiation

Posted by in category: space travel

EVANSTON, Ill.— Packing for outer space? Here’s one thing you won’t want to forget.

Northwestern University researchers have synthesized a new form of melanin enriched with selenium. Called selenomelanin, this new biomaterial shows extraordinary promise as a shield for human tissue against harmful radiation.

“Given the increased interest in space travel, and the general need for lightweight, multifunctional and radioprotective biomaterials, we’ve become excited about the potential of melanin,” said Northwestern’s Nathan Gianneschi, who led the research. “It occurred to our postdoctoral fellow Wei Cao that melanin containing selenium would offer better protection than other forms of melanin. That brought up the intriguing possibility that this as-yet undiscovered melanin may very well exist in nature, being used in this way. So we skipped the discovery part and decided to make it ourselves.”

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