Protein fragments that repair skin damage could be added to cosmetics

Protein fragments that repair skin damage could be added to cosmetics

Increased levels of inflammation and prolonged sun exposure cause the skin to lose elasticity and develop wrinkles with age.

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Skin care that includes two types of newly discovered protein fragments can repair age-related damage.

The proteins that form an elastic network in our skin further damaged by age due to increasing levels of inflammation in our body and exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Over time, the damage causes the skin to lose elasticity and become wrinkled.

As proteins are degraded, they release small protein fragments called peptides which can initiate some degree of skin repair. However, they are usually released in insufficient levels to even somewhat reverse the appearance of skin aging, says Michael Sherratt at the University of Manchester, UK.

In the past, some researchers have developed cosmetic products containing high levels of such peptides, but few of these peptides have been shown to repair skin damage in humans.

In research presented at the American Academy of Dermatology conference in Louisiana on March 18, Sherratt and his colleagues used a artificial intelligence to predict what peptides are produced when proteins are broken down in our skin. From this, they identified two peptides that they believe occur naturally in our skin as a result of damage.

The researchers then applied these peptides to an area of ​​skin on the forearms of eight Caucasian men, aged between 71 and 84. The treated areas were covered with a polymer patch known to improve the penetration of the peptides. on the skin.

After the participants wore the patch for 12 days, the researchers collected a 3-millimeter-wide biopsy from the area where the peptides were applied, as well as from other areas that were not exposed to the peptides. this.

They found that the peptides significantly increased levels of basic protein structures called fibrillin-rich microfibrils, which are known to make skin more elastic, in treated skin compared to other untreated areas. . The participants experienced no adverse effects from the treatment.

The researchers did not record whether this increase in protein levels was associated with a more youthful appearance of the skin, such as fewer wrinkles.

But according to Mike Bell at Walgreens Boots Alliance – a healthcare company that funded the study – in Nottingham, UK, fibrillin-rich microfibrils increased to similar levels as naturally occurring ones in people several years younger than the participants.

The researchers plan to test whether these increased levels of the protein reduce the appearance of wrinkles in upcoming trials that will include a larger number of participants of diverse ethnic backgrounds, Bell said.

Although the study supports the idea that skin peptides can repair some damage, more work is needed to assess how long-lasting the effects are, says Raja Sivamani at Integrative Skin Science and Research, a clinical trials unit in Sacramento, California.

Further work should also look at whether the apparent anti-aging effects seen in forearm skin translate to facial skin, he says.

If made into a skincare product, such as Boots brand No7, you’ll likely need to apply the peptides daily to maintain any anti-ageing effects, says Bell.