The sting of sunburn and the risk of skin cancer may soon be just a painful memory after Australian scientists developed a super sunscreen by unlocking the secrets of the Great Barrier Reef, researchers said on Tuesday.

After two years of studying the way the reef’s corals protect themselves from ultraviolet light, scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have discovered natural “filters” that block out damaging rays.

By mimicking the filters that have enabled corals to survive for millions of years in shallow waters under the harsh Queensland sun, researchers have developed a safe and powerful sunscreen, resistant to dangerous UV radiation that causes sunburn and skin cancer, including melanoma.

“The filters are clear in colour, virtually odourless and very stable, which makes them easy to be incorporated into any emulsion,” said CSIRO scientist Dr. Mark York.

The Great Barrier Reef, stretching more than 2,600 km off the coast of Queensland, is the world’s largest coral reef system.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, responsible for more than 2,000 deaths each year.

The sunscreen is expected to be available world-wide within five years.

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