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Genomics—Advanced Tools to Combat Aging

By: Steve Herman
Posted: June 3, 2010, from the June 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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It used to be said a product stimulates collagen synthesis; however, it’s now said that a product up regulates a gene-controlling collagen synthesis. As always, a wall of nomenclature and acronyms face the novice. Starting with gene names, which surely look weird to the uninitiated, there is the HUGO (Human Genome Organization) Gene Nomenclature Committee providing the official names.4 For example, TUBB2C is tubulin, beta 2C, which may help a geneticist, but not you. It looks intimidating, but the details of gene names are irrelevant for skin care. The important point is different genes can make different things happen to the skin, and beauty products can affect their activities.

Skin care products affect your genes? Certainly. One antiaging regimen involves caloric restriction. Eat less and genes are affected. Eat more, drink wine, smoke, lie in the sun—virtually everything you do impacts your genome.

The genome, and with it all your genetic information, is not on one long DNA molecule. It is spread on 23 chromosomes, with one devoted to sex (two Xs in women; an X and a Y in men). One innovation that made rapid and efficient study of genomic possible is the DNA microarray (a gene chip). Research is now centered on using this tool to create a new generation of products. Another method, polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), is a common method for amplifying DNA, and it is a rapid and relatively economical way to test the efficacy of raw materials.

Practical Applications in Use; Personalized Products

There are two fundamental ways to use genome information. One is to create personalized beauty products. While this has been done commercially, the validity of the process with current technology is questionable. The alternative is using genomic information to refine the search for active ingredients for skin treatment, and this has been embraced by a number of major brand owners.

Retinoic acid is the gold standard of cosmeceutical ingredients. It has drug status and is commonly used for the treatment of acne. It also is a photoaging component of many products claiming to slow skin aging or remove wrinkles, and it is used to reduce the appearance of stretch marks by increasing collagen production.