The New Face of Anti-Aging

It’s a fact, life expectancy increased by 40 years over the past century. The world population is growing older, leading to more and more studies on aging. Decades of cosmetology work has sought ways to diminish the signs of time. Here are the five latest major scientific discoveries that are revolutionizing anti-aging treatments.

Stem cell developments

Stem cells demonstrate great promise in regenerative medicine. Nestled in the heart of the skin, they orchestrate the natural and constant renewal of the epidermis. As their numbers are low, they are extremely valuable. They are also very vulnerable, therefore it is important to protect them. An extraction of stem cells from a rare Swiss apple, known for its potential to promote longevity, won the European award for innovation in 2008. The result of extensive research, it demonstrated the ability to protect the activity of epidermal stem cells, keeping them in a microenvironment of favorable nutrients and protecting them from UV rays. Protecting the epidermal stem cells promotes cell regeneration in the hollows of wrinkles. The result is healthier, younger-looking skin.

Sirtuins: proteins for longevity

Common to virtually all living organisms, from bacteria to humans, sirtuins are abundantly present in the tissues of centenarians. A coincidence? Not really. Scientific research has shown that these proteins are central to certain complex mechanisms. They promote a lengthening of life for individuals following caloric restriction. In the skin, the sirtuins are key elements of cellular repair. This discovery gave birth to a new agent: rice extract. It increases the development and production of longevity-promoting proteins in skin cells. By slowing the rate of cell division, it allows cells to conserve energy and live longer. Similarly, DNA has more time to fully repair itself. The “youthfulness” of the skin is preserved.

Telomerase in the service of telomeres

In 2009, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded for research on telomeres and telomerase. These are key genetic elements involved in the regulation of the cellular aging process. When a cell divides, the ends of their chromosomes—called telomeres— shorten, diminishing the capacity for replication of the cell and lead to aging. Telomerase is an enzyme capable of maintaining the full length of telomeres, which results in increasing the operational life of the cells. A plant extract can now induce the development of telomerase in skin cells. Obtained from the roots of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi—the most commonly used plant in Chinese medicine—baicalin increases cell working life by about 10 per cent, thereby delaying aging.

Chronobiology in the skin

Chronobiology is the science that studies biological rhythms. Research in chronobiology shows that several aspects of the skin vary according to the alternation of day and night, for example, the temperature of the skin, sebum production or pH levels. In skin, these changes are orchestrated by “clock” genes. They set the tempo in the cell: during the day they protect themselves from environmental stress, while at night they run all repair-related functions. But external factors such as UV radiation can decrease production making them less effective at protecting and repairing themselves. A new cosmetic agent (a peptide) fights against the desynchronization that occurs with age, maximizing the daytime protection of cells and nighttime regeneration.

Cellular detoxification

With age, the natural system of elimination of toxins (from stress, pollution, and UV rays) is overrun and the skin no longer regenerates itself properly and ages faster. The purified extract of a microorganism called Candida saitoana, rich in glucans, reboots the cellular detoxification system. It helps eliminate toxins and recycles the debris into new materials to boost regeneration. The skin can then concentrate fully on the cellular repair mechanisms. The effectiveness of other skin agents is amplified and the results are prolonged. The aging process is slowed.

Isabelle Villeneuve is scientific director—head of innovation at Laboratoire Dr Renaud. Passionate about cosmetology, she has more than 20 years of experience, contributing to the development of Laboratoire Dr Renaud since 1995.

by Isabelle Villeneuve | Spring 2011