Genomics, Superbugs and More in Cosmeceuticals

Genomics, botanicals, superbugs and internal aging were among the hot topics discussed at the Cosmeceuticals Summit, held in Orlando, Fla., USA, on March 9-11, 2009. The event was organized by IntertechPira and chaired by Nava Dayan, PhD, head of R&D for Lipo Chemicals; Professor Philip W. Wertz, PhD, of the department of oral pathology, radiology and medicine at the University of Iowa; and Wen Schroeder, president of Seki Cosmeticals.

The event began with a pre-conference seminar on in vitro data to support REACH and the Cosmetics Directive for Safety Assessment. The main event opened the next morning with introductory remarks by Christine Groff, conference director for IntertechPira. A conference overview was then given by the conference chairs.

The first session focused on regulatory began with an enthusiastic presentation by Schroeder, who defined cosmeceuticals as "cosmetics that have a drug-like effect." She discussed some of the causes for the rise of cosmeceuticals, including aging babyboomers and the effects of youth-focused advertising. Schroeder noted that the first emergence of cosmeceuticals was in the 1980s with AHA. In terms of cosmeceutical claims, she advised attendees to "be careful how you use them." She cited a number of court courses where products did not deliver the results that consumers expected based on claims. The presentation continued with a discussion of botanicals, a regular fixture in today's cosmeceutical market. According to Schroeder, creating a natural or organic product can have consequences, including the possibility of pesticides or other chemicals, as regulation is not rigid in all countries that manufacture organic plants.

The discussion of cosmetic court cases continued with Annie Ugurlayan, senior staff attorney at the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bereaus Inc. According to Ugurlayan, "many cosmetic companies make outlandish claims." She introduced a number of cases handed by her division, but the conclusion remained the same, that manufacturers should back up all claims with solid testing. Her advice: "Avoid likening topical cosmetic products to invasive medical procedures."

Rounding out the regulatory discussions was Azalea Rosholt of the customs and international trade practice at Ernst & Young LLP. Customs may not be an arena many know about; however, Rosholt finds that large penalties should prompt people to become aware of such knowledge. She informed attendees that products crossing the border are subject to regulation, including regulations on label claims. 

The morning session ended with a discussion on green fragrances by Steve Hermann, president of Diffusion LLC. According to Hermann, the movement toward green and natural personal care began with the book Silent Spring. After that, the number of laws governing cosmetics reportedly grew sharply. The greening of fragrances is a challenging task due to their volatile nature, a great diversity of chemicals and low molecular weight.  Hermann concluded by offering the current status of green fragrances.

The second session of the day focused on antiaging, beginning with a presentation by Evelyne Bismuth, PhD, of EMD Chemicals Inc., on an antioxidant that provides skin with protection against free radicals along with the additional benefit of high stability. She introduced her company's measurement of Radical Skin Protection Factor (RSF). Bismuth concluded that the antioxidant exhibits the same amount of efficacy is smaller concentrations.

The discussion moved from external aging to internal aging with a presentation by Helen Knaggs, vice president of global R&D at Nu Skin Enterprises, on a novel mechanism behind skin aging. Knaggs worked with researchers at Purdue University to identify arNOX or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide oxinase. This hydroquinone oxidase was found to increase with age in sweat, urine, plasma and sebum and is present on the surface of all cells. The researchers found the age-related material to have no relationship with sun exposure. Knaggs and fellow researchers are looking to mechanism for how arNox acts in the skin.

Professor Joseph Levy of the department of clinical biochemistry brought the antiaging discussion back to external aging with a presentation on lycopene in supplements. According to Levy, his research found lycopene to possibly reduce the damage caused by UV radiation.

The third session opened with a philosophic discussion on the emergence of superbugs by Kenneth Richman, PhD, associate professor of philosophy and health care ethics at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He began with an introduction on antimicrobials. According to Richman, evidence has shown that regular soap may work just as well against bacteria as antibacterial soap. Richman concluded that the rise in interest for antimicrobials is due more to marketing than a scientific need.

The antimicrobial discussion continued with a presentation by Wertz on the antimicrobial lipids at the skin surface. According to Wertz, the specific lipids were recently identified and included sapienic acid, dihyrosphingosine and 6-hydroxysphingosine. Wertz and his research team examined the relation of fatty acids with skin to determine that younger skin has more fatty acid. His team found that the fatty acids killed skin diseases.

Dayan concluded the session with a presentation on how stress effects skin inflammation. According to Dayan, stress can make skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis (AD), psoriasis and acne worse. She found that the onset and perpetuation of AD can be affected by anger. The same is true for psoriasis, which can be worsened with stressful life events. Dayan also found that in stressful periods, acne condition can worsen not due to elevated sebum secretion by rather due to neuropeptide secretion. She recommended a holistic approach to these diseases, stating: "We're not trained to look at reasons; we are trained to look at solutions."

The last session of the day focused on innovation and new developments. Chuck Seeney, president of NBMI/XetaComp Nanotechnology LLC, discussed nanotechnology or "the science of making things very small." He conveyed to attendees that nano-sized sunscreens are not dangerous to skin and in fact can be more protective for skin.

Anna Langerveld, PhD, president and CEO of Genemarkers LLC, delivered a presentation on genomics as biomarkers. Changes in biological processes occur from changes in gene expression, according to Langerveld. She found that inflammation can be caused by many pathways and that is it important to identify which one produces the symptom. Genomics can be used in personal care to improve product formulation to achieve desired effect and to validate product efficacy at a biological level.

The last presentation was given by James McKim, PhD, founder and chief scientific officer of Ceetox Inc., who introduced an in vitro method for determining skin sensitization. According to McKim, the method is quantitative and he concluded that it correlates to the LLNA assay by 91%.

From skin sensitization to antioxidants, the event surely covered the breadth of information related to the cosmeceuticals market.

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