Seeking a Better Understanding of the Skin

Creating better products for optimal skin care requires a deep understanding of the skin and its metabolic processes. In order to achieve this, interdisciplinary teams at Beiersdorf are working on the development of more precise and new kinds of research methods, and in fact, at Beiersdorf Analytics, as part of his doctoral thesis, food chemist Bernd Enthaler has developed a method of skin analysis that helps to give a better understanding of the skin.

The method is called MALDI imaging, and it combines chemical, physical and image analysis techniques together in a way that yields new information about the biology of the skin. “With MALDI imaging, hundreds of the substances that make up the skin, like proteins and lipids, can be simultaneously captured in a measurement. This makes it possible to precisely map the composition and condition of the layers of the skin,” said Enthaler.

If healthy and problem skin samples are compared using the method, the material differences, or “biomarkers,” associated with the different skin conditions can be recognized on a molecular level and their distribution can be represented in an image. Furthermore, the newly developed method is not just limited to the comparison of two skin samples. “Up to 100 skin tissue samples can be compared with one another in one experiment,” said Enthaler.

By understanding the metabolic processes in various skin conditions new starting points can be determined for targeted skin treatment. Through the imaging of the biomarkers it might also be possible to evaluate the success of the treatment directly in the skin sample itself. “The method opens up new possibilities for analyzing skin samples. It will help us to increase our knowledge of the skin and to use this knowledge for the development of innovative skin care products,” Enthaler said.

The findings of the doctoral thesis were recently published in the scientific journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.

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