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9 Research Discoveries in Skincare

There is so much ongoing research taking place in the skin care industry, with new discoveries and innovations impacting the market on a regular basis. From new treatments for eczema to smart bandages that can be controlled by a smart phone, here are 9 of the latest research finds in the skin care industry.

1. New Treatments for Eczema

Eczema, which is also known as atopic dermatitis, affects both children as well as adults, creating an uncomfortably itchy rash that can then lead to stress and emotional issues.

While a variety of treatments for eczema are already available, there are some new treatments that have recently been discovered, and these have the potential to make a huge difference when it comes to healing the skin.

One of these new treatments is an ointment called crisaborole, and this is the first anti-inflammatory medication to be approved for treating eczema in 15 years, making this quite a significant step.

You may be thinking…

“Many of these treatments are only for adults, and cannot be used on children.”

This is where crisaborole differs, as it can be used in children that are over the age of two.

The second new treatment is called dupilumab, and this is a biologic therapy that is given to patients as an injection. While this can only be used in patients over 18 years of age, it is extremely effective in treating severe eczema, especially for those who have not had any luck in the past with topical treatments.

scratching arm

Rather than only treating the symptoms of eczema, these medications target the underlying cause, which is why they are able to make such a difference to the skin.

2. The Origins of Melanoma

The deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma has been studied for so many years now, but its exact origin within the skin has only recently been discovered.

Everybody’s skin contains melanocytes, and these are cells that produce the pigment that gives your skin its color. As these cells mature, those that have been exposed to a mutation that causes melanoma end up dividing, which is something that should not happen.

As they divide, the cells begin to lose the characteristics that make them melanocytes, and soon turn into invasive cancer cells.

Melanocytes can actually be found in other parts of the body too, such as in hair follicles. However, research has shown that these cells do not divide or transform, and it is only the melanocytes that produce skin pigment that have the potential to turn into cancer cells.

Wondering how this helps when it comes to treating melanoma?

Well, it is actually more important in the diagnostic stage. By being able to identify where these cancer cells originate, doctors will be able to diagnose early-stage melanomas much more efficiently.

3. Smart Bandages

An innovation that many are excited about in the skin care industry is that of smart bandages, which were conceived by researchers from Harvard Medical School, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and MIT.

So, how exactly do these bandages work?

They contain electrically conducive fibers, which are wrapped in a gel, and each one can then be filled with antibiotics, painkillers or other medications.

The bandage contains a microcontroller, which is around the size of a postage stamp, and this can be controlled by a wireless device, such as a smartphone.

What would the device be controlling?

It would send small amounts of voltage to the bandage, which then heats the gel and releases the medication.

This is the very first bandage to be invented that is capable of delivering specific doses of drugs, and can even release different drugs at different times, depending on what the wound needs.

Here are a couple of ways in which the bandage could really benefit people:

  • Soldiers who have been wounded on the battlefield are likely to be facing multiple different types of wounds, and this bandage would be able to quickly target each type
  • Those who suffer from diabetes often experience chronic skin wounds, which result in a huge medical cost. These bandages can help to treat that.

Wanting to get your hands on some?

Unfortunately, you will have to wait for quite a few more years. Even though most of the components of the bandage have already been approved by the FDA, the smart bandage still needs to undergo several more years of animal and human testing before it can be officially released on the market.

4. Venom From Fire Ants Could Potentially Treat Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common autoimmune skin disease that is usually treated with topical steroids. While these may be effective to an extent, especially if the psoriasis is quite mild, they do have some negative side effects, including bruising and thinner skin.

However, researchers from the Emory School of Medicine have discovered that the venom from fire ants could actually really help with this.

fire ants

How?

Well, the venom contains compounds called solenopsins, and this is what makes the venom toxic. These compounds closely resemble ceramides, which are the molecules within the skin that create its natural protective barrier.

This natural protective barrier is so important for those who are dealing with psoriasis, as a weakened barrier exacerbates the condition so much more.

By treating the skin with solenopsins, instead of topical steroids and other emollients, this natural protective barrier is strengthened significantly, which really helps to control and soothe the psoriasis.

5. New Sunscreen Formula Prevents Chemicals from Entering the Skin

Sunscreen is absolutely essential, not only to protect yourself from skin cancer, but also to keep your skin healthy, preventing the onslaught of fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots and more.

However, there is one issue that many tend to have with the sunscreen formulas currently available…

Sunscreens usually contain oxybenzone, which is the active ingredient in the majority of sunscreens out there. While this may be necessary, the oxybenzone does end up penetrating the skin, and therefore entering the body.

With so many more consumers looking for chemical-free skin care alternatives these days, researchers at the University of Arizona have turned their attention to developing a sunscreen that prevents the oxybenzone from entering into the skin, which is extremely important since this is a product that should really be used on a daily basis.

How does it work?

The new sunscreen formula binds the oxybenzone in a way that prevents it from penetrating into the skin’s layers, but still leaves it able to filter out UV rays.

In addition to protecting the skin, and body, from the chemicals used in sunscreens, this new sunscreen formula also contains molecules that enable the sunscreen to remain on the skin for longer, meaning that re-applications do not need to be done quite as frequently.

6. Artificial Intelligence Could Detect Skin Cancer Earlier

When skin cancer is detected in its early stages, this makes it much easier to treat, and also means that treatment success rates are much higher than later-stage cancers.

However, diagnosing skin cancer is currently quite a complex process, requiring biopsies and other tests. While this is important for those who actually do have skin cancer, so many unnecessary biopsies are carried out each year for those who do not actually have the disease, which results in quite a significant health care cost.

Fortunately, there may now be a way around this…

Researchers at the Sunnybrook Research Institute and the University of Waterloo are developing an artificial intelligence system that could potentially detect skin cancer at a much earlier stage than doctors would have been able to.

How?

The software used has been trained using thousands and thousands of skin images, and this can then identify the different characteristics of a patient’s skin lesions, helping doctors to rule out skin cancer without having to subject the patient to a biopsy.

This will be much more accurate than the way in a which a doctor currently visually studies a lesion, to decide whether or not a biopsy is needed, and will also be so much quicker.

identifying skin cancerIn addition to visually identifying skin lesions, this new artificial intelligence system will also be able to identify biomarker substances within the skin lesions, taking a look at different chemicals to see whether or not these are indicators of a melanoma.

7. Abnormal Eating Times Can Make the Skin More Vulnerable to UV Rays

Having consistent eating times is a healthy habit that many people strive to stick to, as this is important for the daily cycle that your metabolic organs, such as your liver, go through. However, a new study has now shown that the times at which you eat can also actually affect the way in which your skin reacts to the sun’s UV rays.

Even if it is just a midnight snack, eating at abnormal times can actually disrupt your skin’s natural biological clock, and also affects the specific enzyme that protects the skin from UV rays during the day.

This study is only in its early stages, meaning that plenty more research into the connection between eating times and UV rays is needed. However, it does strongly indicate that those who eat late at night may be much more susceptible to sunburn, as well as the other damaging effects that UV rays can cause, including skin cancer and skin aging.

In addition to having an effect on your skin’s protection against UV rays, the time at which you eat can affect the biological clock in other ways, too…

A study recently carried out discovered that, when it comes to weight loss, the time of day that a person eats actually has more of an impact than the calories that they have consumed.

8. Skin Cells Can Be Transformed into Cells that Produce Insulin, to Treat Diabetes

Diabetes is such a widespread medical condition, affecting more than 400 million people around the world.

Currently, the most common way of treating diabetes is with insulin shots, as this helps to control blood sugar levels. However, some people end up having to inject themselves with insulin quite a few times a day, which can be extremely inconvenient.

delivering insulin shot

Due to this, scientists all over the world are trying to find ways in which they can restore insulin secretion within the human body, rather than having to use shots.

Now, researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway may have found a way…

These scientists have been using stem cell techniques to transform skin cells into cells that produce insulin. While this research may only be in its early days, the long term goal is to make these cells able to secrete insulin automatically, in response to the body’s fluctuating blood sugar levels.

These cells will then be placed underneath the skin of people who have diabetes, meaning that the condition can be treated without any extra effort needed from the patient.

9. A Sunscreen Made From DNA

Sunscreen is such an essential skin care product, which is why there is so much innovation currently going on when it comes to developing new and improved sunscreen formulas.

One of the latest innovations when it comes to sunscreen is all down to researchers at the State University of New York and Binghamton University, as they have developed a skin coating that is made from DNA. Not only does this coating work so much better than a standard sunscreen at protecting the skin from UV rays, but it also helps to keep the skin hydrated.

Wondering how it works?

The coating is made from extremely thin, and transparent, DNA films, which have then been irradiated with UV light. The researchers discovered that the longer these films are exposed to UV rays, the more effective they become at absorbing them, thereby preventing them from entering the skin.

Since the DNA films are also hygroscopic, this means that they have water-retention abilities, which helps to keep the skin hydrated for long periods of time.

In addition to being used in sunscreens, these DNA films could also be used in moisturizers and other skin care products, as well as for healing wounds, as you will be able to visually track the healing process without having to remove a bandage.

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