Seaspire, a startup born out of Northeastern University, is pioneering a new category of multifunctional materials with extensive implications for human health and environmental safety. The team has unlocked the ability to recreate and package the chemical machinery of the chromatophore, a pigment-containing organ found in the skin of marine life like squid and other cephalopods. Chromatophores enable these animals to adapt to their environment by changing color almost instantaneously.
Camille Martin and Leila Deravi, Seaspire’s co-founders, will use this chromatophore-inspired class of pigments — coined xanthochrome by the team — to replace the harmful active ingredients that provide UV filtering in existing sunscreens.
Xanthochrome has the potential to be among the first UV filters that can protect against solar irradiation and be used in preventative skincare, while reducing toxicities to marine organisms. The compounds have the ability to scatter and absorb light and can protect against a broader spectrum of UV radiation (from UV to near IR) compared with current physical and chemical UV filters.
Seaspire was a 2020 MassNextGen award recipient. MassNextGen is a five year, more than $2 million commitment to ensure greater gender parity in the next generation of life science entrepreneurs. Each year, following a competitive program, the MLSC awards women-led early-stage life science companies a yearlong customized package of support, which includes non-dilutive grant funding and access to a network of seasoned Executive Coaches from the life sciences ecosystem to refine their business strategies and effectively raise capital.