Researchers at Leiden University have developed a protective cream that possibly can treat patients whose skin has a reduced barrier function. According to the report, Vernix caseosa (VC) is a protective cream that helps the skin grow before and after birth.
At first, the goal of the researchers was to find a treatment for newborn babies; however, they have found the cream to have a number of applications including treatment of dry skin or dermatitis. The team also mentions that the cream could be formulated with other ingredients to serve as a medicinal carriers. Also, they find the cream to have future cosmetic applications.
According to Robert Riβman, one of the researchers in the study, "We haven't yet fathomed all the functions of the cream, but we have demonstrated that its properties are temperature-sensitive. That means that the cream fulfils a number of roles before, during and after birth, just as butter exhibits different characteristics in the oven and on the table."
Riβman and his collegue Joke Bouwstra noticed the beneficial elements of VC and produced a synthetic version of the cream with the same structure and unique properties. According to the report, VC consists of mostly water, but its beneficial properties come from its 10% lipid and 10% corneocyte content.
To create the synthetic cream, the researchers used X-ray diffraction measurements with the DUBBLE beamline at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). For the coreocytes, they used electron microscopy, yielding their size, shape and water content.
To make the synthetic cream, the researchers sourced lanolin. They isolated the fats that were the closest match to the measurements they had of VC, and used them to create a synthetic solution with the same behavior. The corneocytes were synthesized by M.H.M. Oudshoorn from the Utrecht University.
The researchers reported that the synthetic cream looked the same as VC under both X-ray measurements and light microscopy, while allowing the researchers to alter the water content and other properties at will. The researchers have discovered through pre-clinical testing, that the cream shows potential for use on disrupted and underdeveloped skin.