The symposium, organised by the research arm of French luxury consumer group Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, invited scientists from the US and Europe to discuss the latest developments in stem cell therapy and its possible benefits to skin care. Stem cells have the potential to differentiate into different and specialised cells. For this reason they are at the heart of tissue and organ development and repair. Stem cell therapy promises benefits for a range of degenerative conditions and injuries, such as Parkinson's, heart disease, severe burns and premature baldness. LVMH's symposium explored the implications of recent findings in therapeutic applications and the advances in stem cell research for the science of the skin. Cedric Blanpain, working at the Interdisciplinary Research Institute, Free University of Brussels, Belgium, presented his work on the characterization, activation and differentiation of the epidermal stem cell. Blanpain's research focuses on the multipotent follicular stem cells that reside in a portion of the hair follicle called the bulge. The multipotency of these cells - the fact that they can divide into many different cell types - means that they may, in future, provide very real therapeutic benefits. The project isolates the bulge stem cells, and investigates the optimal conditions for in vitro clonal analyses to help pinpoint the processes that lead to hair regeneration. In addition, Carlo Pincelli, from the Institute of Dermatology, University of Moderna and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy, gave a presentation entitled 'Epidermal Basal Layer: the Regenerative Stem Cell Skin Compartment'. Pincelli's work focuses on the basal layer of the skin in between the hair follicles, in particular investigating the biochemicals that help to regulate the survival and division of the stem cells. Pincelli and his team have isolated two components that appear to be important for the division and differentiation of the stem cells: high levels of beta1-integrin, a transmembrane receptor; and the protein survivin. An improved knowledge of how the skin renews itself - how the stem cells function -will highlight how stem cell therapy could be used for therapeutic purposes in the treatment of skin disorders and burns. The symposium concluded with a discussion on the question 'The reconstructed man, a probable future?' by Eric Perrier, the Executive Vice President of LVMH's R&D centre, concentrating on the possibility of in-vivo 'reconstructed' skin, a concept which LVMH feel would have powerful implications for our ageing society.