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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.

page 7 of 8

Techniques using human stem cells to improve the appearance of the face are used today, but are the exclusive domain of cosmetic surgery. However, experimental cosmetic and reconstructive surgery show amazing results, and although the beauty industry will not be able to use them, they should be noted.

The Future of Stem Cells in Cosmetics

The holy grail of cosmetics is eliminating wrinkles, and effectively addressing wrinkles with stem cell technologies would rely on getting stem cells to move to the site of repair.

A wrinkle can be considered a wound that, by definition, can never heal as it is triggered by movement that cannot be eliminated unless the tissue stops moving.

This is why Botox works so well—it prevents muscles and, therefore, skin from moving. But it is also very limiting. Can we live with perfectly immobile faces for the sake of preventing wrinkles? So, getting back to the issue at hand, if we find a way to drive stem cells to the bottom of the wrinkle, we could improve their appearance dramatically.

When an injury occurs in the skin, growth factors involved in, among other processes, normal cell growth and wound healing are produced. They stimulate stem cells. In the past, one such transforming growth factor ß1 (TGFß1), was used to accelerate dermal and epidermal repair. The challenge today is to reactivate latent TGFß1.