Synthetic Melanin-like Nanoparticles (MelNP) Act as Intracellular UV-shields

Tech ID: 27158 / UC Case 2016-328-0


Melanin is a brown pigment that is delivered to keratinocytes in the skin after being excreted as melanosomes to form melanocytes. The primary function of melanin is to prevent UV-induced nuclear DNA damage. The biological system for induction, production, transfer and degradation of melanosomes is critical to controlling human skin health. Defects in melanin production in humans can cause diseases, such as skin cancer, vitiligo and albinism, many of which lack effective treatments due to their genetic origins. Therefore, there is an increasing interest in the production of synthetic melanin, as a substitute for natural melanin.

Technology Description

UC San Diego researchers in Professor Gianneschi’s lab have synthesized melanin-like nanoparticles (MelNP) which mimic both the physiochemical properties of natural melanins, as well as a number of physiological traits, which include:

  • ·         Ability to degrade in lysosomes to form melanosomes
  • ·         Demonstrated UV absorption and photo protective attribute
  •       Undergo perinuclear aggregation by the keratinocytes to form a protective supranuclear  cap in the same way natural melanin is arranged around epidermal cells


Potential applications of MelNP include use as a UV protectant agent, therapeutic agent, or for cosmetic color  


MeLNP have similar chemical composition to natural melanin and demonstrates similar broad band UV absorption, which provides an opportunity for use in cosmetic applications

State Of Development

This invention is available for licensing

Intellectual Property Info

Provisional patent filed

Related Materials

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Published Application 2018013609 01/18/2018 2016-328
Patent Cooperation Treaty Published Application 2018013609 01/18/2018 2016-328


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Other Information


melanin, skin cancer, vitiligo, albinism, melanin-like nanoparticles, UV protection

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