Stem Cells & Skin Care

The science behind the growth factors and human stem-cell-conditioned media that form the basis for many new cosmeceuticals.
Stem Cells & Skin Care

Lifeline Skin Care uses conditioned media from human non-embryonic stem cells, so-called pluripotent stem cells. The cells are harvested from unfertilized human eggs (not embryos), such as those used for in vitro fertilization.

“When considering the best stem cells to use as a source of an extract, consider the goal,” says Simon Craw, PhD, executive vice president of business development at International Stem Cell Corp. (a parent company of Lifeline). “Proteins and peptides taken directly from human non-embryonic stem cells are the most potent on the market. Lifeline Skin Care is one of the few skincare product lines created by a stem cell biotechnology company. International Stem Cell Corp. is currently developing a treatment and potential cure for Parkinson’s disease using these same stem cells as a starting point.”

AnteAge MD by Cellese employs conditioned media derived from bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSC) as a primary component in its product lines. “Recent research reveals the role bone marrow stem cells play in tissue repair, particularly the skin,” says George Taylor, MD, a retired physician, who co-founded Cellese with John Sanderson, MD, a stem cell researcher. Both have worked on diabetes-related projects dealing with wound healing. “BM-MSCs patrol the body via the bloodstream and pinpoint injured tissue. They coordinate cellular proliferation, epithelialization and remodeling. The number of bone marrow stem cells plummets with age. On the basis of healing physiology, BM-MSCs seem to be the best cells to culture to obtain biosignals for use in products to be applied to the skin.” AnteAge MD also includes recombinant TGF-ß3, IGF-1, peptides, niacinamide and antioxidants.

Suneva Medical’s Regenica line includes human cell-conditioned media produced from neonatal cells grown under conditions of very low oxygen and suspension, a simulation of the embryonic environment. Neonatal cells have been found to produce proteins and growth factors in types and quantities similar to those of fetal cells. The human cell-conditioned media (hCCM) is extracted and formulated into a gel.

Bacus says knowing which growth factors you are including in the end product is as important as the type of cell used. “Many products include uncertain combinations of growth factors. For the CeLuvia line we focus on combining growth factors in a very rational way based on years of experimentation in the lab using skin cells,” she says. “Unless the scientific principles of growth factors and how to use them is understood, there will be no benefit to incorporating them in skincare products.” CeLuvia Night Complex, for example, includes fibroblast growth factor phytosphingosine (PPAR gamma activator-PGA), an anti-inflammatory, and antioxidants.

Dr. Taylor agrees that the mixture of growth factors and cytokines is crucial. “Inflammation is considered a major contributing factor to the development of many degenerative conditions. Chronic inflammation is pro-aging for the whole body, and especially skin,” he says. “All growth factors are inherently either pro-inflammatory, anti-inflammatory or neutral. The collective pattern from different types of cells will also be pro-inflammatory, anti-inflammatory or neutral. BM-MSC conditioned media includes an anti-inflammatory pattern of growth factors and cytokines.”

Ensuring Delivery

No matter how good the stem-cell media, questions still remain about whether any of them are stable enough to survive in a skincare formulation and, if so, whether they can penetrate the skin barrier and produce any kind of significant effect on skin cells.

Image copyright Getty Images.