2012 September 16 Sunday
Blood Stem Cells To Produce Skin Collagen?

A company in Glasgow, Scotland is going to try injection of stem cells into the skin to restore elasticity and fullness.

The cells will be injected beneath the skin where they will grow into new skin cells to help restore the elasticity, claims Pharmacells, the Glasgow-based company behind the technology.

I really want to see stem cell therapies for appearances to take off because the revenues will help fund stem cell technologies for a wider range of purposes. What plastic surgeons do is usually funded directly by patients without insurance company or government involvement. So it is a commercial space within medicine where more rapid iteration and innovation is possible.

The US FDA treats autologous (from your own body) stem cell treatments as drugs. That makes stem cell treatment regulatory approval a very high and very expensive hurdle in the US. This slows down the development of stem cell treatments. One problem: We need many different kinds of stem cell treatments. As illustrated by recent work at Scripps to identify yet another stem cell type in the brain, we have many kinds of stem cells. If therapies to replace each kind must get separate regulatory approval and if each approval costs hundreds of millions of dollars then most stem cell treatments (at least in the United States) lay decades in our future.

A beauty-enhancing stem cell treatment is the sort of thing that healthy people will travel to get. One can imagine, for example, a stem cell treatment approved in Britain offered at a clinic in Bermuda. A person's own blood stem cells will be used as the source of therapeutic cells.

They have licenced the technology to harvest a new type of stem cell – called a blastomere-like stem cell (CORR) – which is found circulating in the blood.

We need a big industry to grow up around stem cell treatments so that revenue from product sales provides a stable source of funding for lots of scientists and engineers to improve and extend existing products. Expect to do some traveling to get access to some of those therapies.

By Randall Parker    2012 September 16 08:50 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2009 June 17 Wednesday
Fluorouracil Makes Old Skin Look Younger

Fluorouracil used to treat precancerous skin has the side effect of making skin look younger.

Ann Arbor, Mich. - The chemotherapy medication fluorouracil appears to reduce potentially precancerous skin patches and improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin, according to a report by U-M associate professor of dermatology Dana L. Sachs, M.D., in the June issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the Journal of the American Medical Association/Archives journals.

Fluorouracil stops the body from synthesizing thymine, a building block of DNA. This drug is used to treat cancers of the colon, head and neck, pancreas and other organs.
In studies of cancer patients undergoing treatment with fluorouracil, clinicians noticed changes in skin appearance, which led to the development of a topical therapy to treat skin lesions that may develop into skin cancer.

The fluorouracil works in a way similar to laser treatment. But the fluorouracil costs less.

Soon after the final fluorouracil treatment, skin biopsies revealed an increase in the levels of compounds related to skin injury, inflammation and degradation of the extracellular matrix (the non-living tissue that supports skin). At later points, procollagen protein, a collagen precursor was increased. Collagen is the major protein in skin and it is present in lower amounts in photo-damaged skin. In addition, collagen is fragmented and damaged in aged skin. Topical fluorouracil causes epidermal injury, which stimulates wound healing and dermal remodeling resulting in improved appearance, the authors write. The mechanism of topical fluorouracil in photo-aged skin follows a predictable wound healing pattern of events reminiscent of that seen with laser treatment of photo-aging.

The fluorouracil (or the laser) will kill some especially aged cells. But does it do more damage to other cells that puts one at higher risk of cancer in the longer run?

Rejuvenation therapies that would selectively kill off the most aged cells might be beneficial. But the selectivity of the cell killing needs to be very high or else a drug will damge more cells than it kills.

By Randall Parker    2009 June 17 11:49 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2008 June 01 Sunday
Therapies Restore Aging Skin Collagen Production

Some people apply topical retinoic acid in order to look good. But think of retinoic acid as a rejuvenation therapy that at least partially restores collagen needed to avoid bruises and tears. No need to think you are doing the therapy for vanity. No, no. Think "reinforce structural integrity". (can you hear a Star Trek character saying that?)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Fine wrinkles, deeper creases, saggy areas around the mouth and neck – the sights in the mirror that make baby boomers wince – are not inevitable. They result from a structural breakdown inside the skin that some existing treatments effectively counteract by stimulating the growth of new, youthful collagen, University of Michigan scientists say.

The researchers report an emerging picture of collagen collapse and possible renewal, based on more than a decade of studies, in the May issue of Archives of Dermatology.

The article draws on dozens of studies since the early 1990s, conducted primarily by U-M dermatologists, to explain why three types of available skin treatments are effective: topical retinoic acid, carbon dioxide laser resurfacing and injections of cross-linked hyaluronic acid.

These treatments all improve the skin’s appearance – and its ability to resist bruises and tears – by stimulating new collagen.

I wonder whether long term use of retinoic acid slows the rate of skin aging. Or does it cause the collagen producing cells to wear out more quickly?

You do not want your skin to dissolve. Aging is destruction. All this sounds bad.

As skin ages, reactive oxygen species, associated with many aspects of aging, lead to increased production of the enzyme collagenase, which breaks down collagen. Then fibroblasts, the critical players in firm, healthy skin, lose their normal stretched state. They collapse, and then more breakdown enzymes are produced. People in their 80s have four times more broken collagen than people in their 20s.

“What it’s doing is dissolving your skin,” Voorhees says. “What you’ve got is a vicious cycle. You have to interrupt it, or aging skin is just going downhill.”

In the elderly, in whom the dermis has lost two-thirds or more of its youthful thickness through collagen loss, skin tears and bruises easily. Collagen-building interventions thus have potential for reducing basic health problems such as bed sores, in addition to improving appearance.

We really need stem cell therapies and gene therapies that would fix the damage that causes the reactive oxygen species generation. Stop the problem at its root.

By Randall Parker    2008 June 01 10:47 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
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