“These proteins can be very effective once they are delivered to the skin where they can initiate collagen and elastin production,” says Craw. “However, protein molecules are large and very fragile, which makes them difficult to formulate.”
Until fairly recently, it was not possible to include human proteins in skincare formulations. Microencapsulation, a type of nanotechnology commonly used in pharmaceuticals, personal care products and food, now offers formulators the ability to protect fragile ingredients and slip even large molecules like proteins through the skin barrier.
“Lifeline Skin Care takes care to ensure proper delivery by using nanotechnology to encapsulate the proteins, protecting them from degradation and aiding their absorbance. As a result, more of these important proteins remain potent,” says Craw.
Most of the basic science behind stem-cell-derived products comes from clinical investigations into wound healing. “Cell-based therapies have been used routinely in medical care for burn and wound management for more than 30 years,” explains Ensley. “It is believed through current research that these derivatives contain properties that are well suited to promote dermal wound healing and that these results can be used effectively in a topical skincare formulation to assist in reversing the appearance of aging.”
The marketing materials for many stem-cell-derived products use phrases like “rooted in science” or “based on award-winning science,” but what do we really know about any of these skincare preparations utilizing stem-cell-conditioned media? Most have at least small in-house studies to share, but physicians looking for large, peer-reviewed clinical trials are likely to be disappointed.
The May 2012 issue of Journal of Drugs in Dermatology includes a study done by Jonathan M. Schouest, BS, Teresa Luu, MD, and Dr. Moy, that provides results of a three-month trial of Dr. Moy’s synthetic human-like DNA-EGF serum. The open-label, single-center study involved 29 females ages 39 to 75 with mild to severe signs of photodamage and aging on facial skin. The participants used the serum twice daily along with a simple cleanser and basic sunscreen in a prescribed regimen. Clinical evaluations, clinical photography and self-assessments were done at baseline and at the end of each month during the study period. The authors concluded that “regular applications of the DNA-EGF serum regimen effectively reduced facial rhytids and improved several parameters of skin texture to a statistically significant degree” for the 21 subjects who completed the study. Subject assessments showed that 80% saw improvement in skin smoothness and 60% saw improvement in both fine lines and brown spots.
Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (April 2012) includes a study evaluating Regenica gel for its efficacy in healing skin after laser resurfacing. The split-face clinical evaluation included 42 subjects undergoing combination ablative and nonablative laser procedures and three concentrations of Regenica’s hCCM gel. Blinded physician evaluations showed a dose-response trend, especially in the assessment of crusting. A significant difference in readings for transepidermal water loss indicated that the hCCM-treated side of the face returned to normal skin barrier function more rapidly, and histopathology showed reduced inflammation in biopsies from treated skin compared to untreated skin.
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