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The Role of Stem Cells in Beauty—Today and Tomorrow

By: Marie Alice Dibon, PharmD
Posted: August 31, 2011, from the September 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Growing effective meristemic cells is not easy, but these actives present a wealth of benefits, both from an activity standpoint as well as from a sustainability standpoint—once you have them, you can theoretically make as many plants as you want with that initial stem cell load. So, you should be able to grow rare plants indefinitely under highly controlled conditions. That is the key argument that researchers at Italy’s Istituto di Ricerche Biotechnologiche, S.p.A. (IRB) make.

Human Stem Cells

In short, and as shown by M. Rathman-Josserand of L’Oréal, stem cell research allows for the following:

  • Novel concepts and more effective cosmetic treatments for the skin: anti-aging, photo protection, preservation in the face of environmental stresses;
  • Novel concepts and cosmetic treatments for preventing hair loss and graying;
  • Development of innovative tissue engineering technologies for in vitro testing purposes;
  • Predictive toxicology: novel cell systems for the replacement of certain animal models.

A Primer

Research on human stem cells has allowed the industry to understand human skin much better. By understanding human stem cells and their awesome potential, skin aging can be better addressed and new R&D tools for the development of better actives can be developed.

Stem cells in the skin represent its true youth capital, its essential asset. They can produce new cells, almost indefinitely.

What makes stem cells age is what makes the skin age. But, because of that incredible reproduction potential, stem cells must be manipulated very carefully. When they start reproducing uncontrollably, they don’t differentiate properly and the risk there is cancer. So it important to stay away from tactics that would affect the renewal rate of stem cells. The real challenges, the important stakes, lie elsewhere, and it is by understanding how stem cells function and behave in the skin that we can harvest their full potential.

The Ability to Search and Rescue