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PFC for Oxygen Delivery to Skin
By: Katie Schaefer, Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine
Posted: December 1, 2009, from the December 2009 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
Research on perfluorocarbons (PFCs) began before World War II but it was the 1942 Manhattan Project in the United States to develop the atomic bomb that led to methods of producing PFCs other than reacting fluorine with hydrocarbon. As a result, PFCs have been adapted for a number of industries. For example, Leland Clark, PhD, a biochemist known for his Clark electrode invention, worked extensively with PFCs. Although his vision was to produce a blood substitute, he developed a liquid breathing material based on Oxycytea, a third-generation PFC with the chemical name perfluoro(t-butyl cyclohexane) (FtBu) designed to enhance the delivery of oxygen to damaged tissues, which was successfully breathed by mice as a replacement for oxygenb.
PFCs are stable molecules that resist heat transfer and reactivity, according to Aharon Grossman, vice president of topical products at Oxygen Biotherapeutics Inc.—the company originally founded by Clark that produces the Oxycyte brand oxygen carrier. A few years ago, the company moved away from the blood substitute application to explore other uses for the material’s solid stability and interesting gas-carrying properties.
Uses such as treatment for traumatic brain injury, sickle cell crisis pain, trauma, wound care, decompression sickness, acute respiratory distress syndrome, stroke, myocardial infarction, surgery, diabetes and cosmetics were investigated. “We were looking for areas that could benefit from the delivery of oxygen,” said Grossman, who added, in reference to cosmetics, that “human skin needs oxygen for all of its metabolic processes, and it is known that aged or damaged skin is not well-oxygenated.”
FtBu in Skin Care
According to Grossman, humans receive a percentage of respirated oxygen through the skin, which makeup can inhibit. The company therefore focused on the gas-carrying ability of FtBu to develop a topical gel that delivers oxygen into the skin. By employing Oxycyte, the gel reportedly has six times the oxygen solubility of water, allowing it to readily absorb atmospheric oxygen. “When the gel is absorbed, it brings the oxygen into the skin with it,” said Grossman.
From an antioxidant approach, this delivery of oxygen could inadvertentently be equated with the absorption of oxygen free radicals, but these species are not what the gel helps to deliver. Rather, the gel delivers atmospheric oxygen, which is in the stable O2 form. “This stable form of oxygen is what the skin needs for metabolism,” said Grossman. “Free radicals are produced by the body, and when the skin is exposed to a large amount of free radicals, skin cells are damaged.”