Peptides are amino acid chains that signal for or modulate the majority of natural processes within the body, according to the article published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.
A number of bioactive peptide ingredients are on the market, some of the most well known are used for their wrinkle smoothing botox-like effects, but the future of such molecules is not limited to anti-wrinkle formulations.
As peptides are involved in the control of, among other things, inflammation, melanogenesis (the creation of melanin) and protein synthesis, synthetic analogs of these molecules can have wide ranging effects.
Examples include peptide ingredients modelled on the wound repair signalling sequences which may have rejuvenating, anti-aging effects, and peptides of the innate immune system that may help in acne treatment by neutralizing bacterial debris.
Modified to improve skin penetration
One of the significant advantages of the peptide approach is that the molecules can be easily tinkered with to improve their characteristics.
By modifying the amino acid chain it is possible to increase receptor binding, increase specificity, decrease toxicity and increase skin penetration, according to the study.
The ability of an ingredient to cross the skin barrier is key to its function in a topical cosmetic formulation, and the authors reference research that suggests altering just one amino acid in the chain may help the ingredient cross the barrier.
In addition, some peptides can help others cross the skin barrier, for example Marginin, an antimicrobial peptide over 10 amino acids in length.
The carrying formulation will also affect the activity of the peptide and the study advises researchers to investigate the effects of the delivery vehicle with each ingredient.
Looking to the future, in addition to improving the bioavailability of such ingredients and widening their actions, the study authors predict formulators will start combining more than one peptide in the same product.
A product that combined a peptide that neutralized bacterial toxins with one that helped to reduce redness could have great impact on the anti-acne market.
Source: Journal of Cosmetic DermatologyVolume 8, pages 8-13Bioactive peptides: signalling the futureK Fields, T.J. Falla, K Rodan, L Bush