For Perrier, this, and other new areas of research, emphasize how skin care is no longer ‘hope in a jar’ but instead ‘efficacy in a jar’.
Healing without scars
Boris Petrikovsky, a senior scientific advisor for skin care company Beillis Development, discussed his research into fetal skin and how this could present new opportunities for anti-aging ingredients.
According to Petrikovsky, fetal skin heals in a completely different way to adult skin and bears little resemblance to the classic wound repair that scientists are used to.
“Adult skin heals via an inflammatory response, involving macrophages and type 1 collagen,” he explained.
On the other hand, fetal skin, when it is healing, does not involve the inflammatory pathway but instead relies heavily on the skin’s stem cells and fibroblasts, he said.
For Petrikovsky, one of the most important differences between adult and fetal skin is the fact that fetal skin heals without scarring.
A wrinkle is a small wound
A wrinkle is a small wound, a response to trauma, he explained, and for a long time research has been focused on improving the wound healing pathway in the skin.
“If, instead of trying to improve the adult skin’s response to damage, we could try to use the very different fetal pathways, the positive effect would be significantly greater, we would be dealing with a different order of magnitude,” he said.
For this reason Petrikovsky has been looking at ways we can activate the adult stem cells in the skin to perform in similar ways to those in fetal skin.
One substance he has found that can upregulate the stem cell activity of adult skin is Peptide 199, an amino acid chain derived from the Wharton Jelly, a gelatinous substance found in the umbilical cord.
This upregulation ensures the fibroblast dominance over the inflammatory process during skin repair, mimicking the process that occurs in fetal skin, he explained.
In response to a question regarding the safety of this approach Petrikovsky assured the audience that the stem cell activity would not pose significant risks and would not stimulate cancer cells.