Bioactive skincare technology has been and is still based on the ability to measure an effect based on the application of an ingredient or a formulated product on living skin. This “cause and effect” is the basis of most empirical experimentation- do something and observe the effect. The biochemistry of the molecular and genetic control or aging and thus attempts at reversing aging were severely limited by our lack of ability to observe the molecular effects occurring during the aging process of our applying an ingredient or formulation.
That has recently been fixed. qPCR DNA/ RNA analysis has removed that obstacle. Skin is composed of basically four cell types (basal/ corneo keratinocytes, melanocytes, Langerhans/ lymphocytes and papillary/ reticular fibroblasts). While these cells possess all the same genes they only express certain of the approximately 22,000 genes based on their function. Many genes controlling cellular organelle functions (mitochondria, ribosomes etc) are expressed in every cell as well as house keeping genes and antioxidant enzyme genes. Diagram #1 illustrates the point.
In a tissue biopsy if significant expression of collagen I (COL1A1) gene is observed, one knows that is originating in the fibroblasts, the same can be said if keratin 1 is observed-its from keratinocytes. Unfortunately at tissue interfaces such as the epidermal/dermal junction both cell types may be contributing to a build up of the same protein (e.g., COL6A1).
Researchers at OBI are focusing on several specific areas of the skin aging process in order to produce topically applied products which can alter these processes in a positive direction.
The principal external aging factor is sunlight. Therefore, what are the genetic alterations observed in the molecular constituents of skin and the cells that control the production of these constituents as a function of excessive sunlight?
What are the specific changes resulting from sunlight that effect the epidermal / dermal junction? Which changes are irreversible and which can be altered?
Are hindered phenolic antioxidants useful in sunscreens? Are they pro or anti-oxidants in the presence of sunlight? Are ascorbate/ tocopheryl based anti-oxidants useful in preventing damage, aiding in post repair, both or neither. Is DNA damage repair achievable by topical products?
All these questions are can be answered by qPCR assay in a cost effective and rapid manner.