MONTEVIDEO, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Uruguayan scientists have discovered an enzyme in Antarctica that they believe has pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications, Defense Minister Jorge Menendez said on Monday.
Menendez described the so-called "Antarctic bacterial photolysis" an "important discovery" by a team at the University of the Republic that has been doing research in the region for the past 10 years.
"The discovery of the Antarctic bacterial photolysis will be patented," the minister said at a press conference, adding that "it has very important potential, from a pharmaceutical and cosmetic perspective."
According to state news agency Uypress, a leader of the research team, biochemistry and molecular biology professor Susana Castro, said that photolysis enzymes are capable of repairing damage caused to DNA by ultraviolet radiation, and if left untreated such damage can cause mutations that lead to skin cancer.
The Defense Ministry "offers logistical support" to the research team, which is carrying out some 15 different projects in the Antarctic region, said Menendez.