“Stem-cells not only have the power to cure diseases, but they also have the potential to enhance your skin and kick father Time’s butt”, is the slogan that has been inspiring the cosmetic industry into rolling out new product lines using stem cells and growth factors, plus mega revenues made during the process has kept the bandwagon roller coasting and prime talk through the grapevine. The consumers, encouraged by promises of younger looking skin, have lapped up stem cell research in beauty ever since, which of course couldn’t have been possible without mega marketing from the industry. But for those of you who need a little peace of mind when it comes to what you slather on your face, don’t rely on the glossy ad magazines and do some serious reading. I recently did a post on cosmecuticals with plant-derived stem cells in Jeddah beauty Blog with a promise to explore the animal derived stem cell products soon. So, Here I am with the controversial subject — Skincare Products Enriched With Animal Derived Stem Cells.
Bankable Sources Of Human/Animal Stem Cells
If you're into skincare, chances are you're also in a state of confusion. Because as exciting as new developments in anti-ageing are, if you want to get your head around what to use and why, you probably need to get your head into a science book, too. To get you all up to date with the bamboozling beauty subject stem cells in skincare we have to begin right at the beginning of it all — what are some of the common sources of human/animal stem cells?
· Human, sheep and bovine placenta
· Umbilical cord blood
· Human bone marrow, blood, skin, ova and more recently fat cells
Biggest Hype — Placenta Derived Stem Cells
The popular placenta derived stem cells used widely around the world have their root in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) techniques, where the placenta is considered a powerful and sacred medicine. TCM holds the placenta as a ‘full of life force’ organ offering those who consume it ‘jing’ energy only obtainable at birth and consuming placenta is comparable to “drinking from the fountain of youth”.
In search of the proverbial fountain of youth, a more advanced way of using the afterbirth for adults was conceived of in South Korea back in 2008. RNL Bio, a bio-technology venture based in Seoul has been advertizing cosmetic creams from human stem cells obtained from placentas since more then five years now. The incorporation of these placenta derived stem cells in youth imparting products doesn’t stop in skin creams, the homosapian desire to stay young has also created the bizarre trends of drinking liquefied placenta and of getting placental extract injections among the aged. Putting dried placenta powder into empty vegetable capsules, known as placenta encapsulation, has also been very popular in recent years.
The companies involved with the placental encapsulation process so far, have refused to guarantee results with placenta capsules or any other placenta products and remedies.
Some of the reported side effects of the ingested placenta have been:
· Mild headaches (a lower dose is recommended to solve this problem).
· Stomach cramping or abdominal pain (as a result of improper storage of capsules).
· Diarrhea, loose stools or constipation (may be caused by the high levels of iron in the capsules).
· PUPPPs rash returning after 3 days of consuming capsules.
· Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) sufferers feel less relief (due to the high level of relaxin hormone in the placenta, which is the cause of PGP).
· Unexplained lack of milk production.
· Emotional symptoms similar to PMS.
Big hype yet no guaranteed results or proven studies showing efficacy and/or side effects of these products is the main reason why these products are still controversial and have not become full on mainstream.
Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells
Stemage Skincare is a company started by a surgeon affiliated with the Washington University School of Medicine, which uses stem cells from anonymous bone marrow donors. Kathy Ireland has been their spokesperson and venture partner. In an interview with the Forbes Magazine recently the supermodel-turned-supermogul has professed her love for the three-step product line, as she had been searching for a skin care product that met her high standards and Stemage has finally come through for her. They have a small batch of users reporting satisfaction as efficacy of the products and no true clinical trials backing all the claims.
Oocytes The Ethical Stem Cells:
On the brave-new-world end of the stem cell spectrum, there's new buzz-brand Lifeline, who is incorporating human stem cells derived from unfertilized eggs into their skincare concoctions. The non-embryonic stem cells in Lifeline stem cell serums are derived from unfertilized human oocytes (eggs), which are donated to the company from several IVF labs and clinics in California. So far they have enjoyed great media lime light and popularity among consumers. Clinical trials are still clearly missing.
Fat Derived Stem Cells:
Liposuction may yield more than just a leaner figure – it can potentially produce stem cells for tissue reconstruction and this my friends is the latest and biggest hype in the stem cell industry currently.
U Autologous, is the latest range of anti-aging lotions and potions named by Forbes as one of 2012’s top fashion and beauty start-ups. Unlike Lifeline and other stem cell product lines, it sources the cells from each patient’s own fat tissue, which has generated a lot of interest in the research circles. If you’re intrigued you can get more info on their parent company American CryoStem’s website. I am definitely captivated with the idea, as we are talking about autologous stem cells here — derived from your own body not taken form someone else. After some digging up this is what I uncovered…
How does the process work?
Roughly two ounces of stem-cell-rich fat are removed from the hips or abdomen via liposuction at the office of a participating cosmetic surgeon, then “safely stored in cryopreservation tanks” for a monthly fee. Stem cells isolated from this fat are multiplied in a lab culture until they begin to produce abundant growth factors, which are then incorporated into individualized face creams that can be made to order for as long as the stem cells are banked.
The price for this personalized product is high—more than $3,000, versus $190 for a Lifeline serum—but is it more effective? - I would say intuitively that it makes a lot of sense that your own growth factors would be more biocompatible with your skin than something that’s generic. But, no formal studies have been done yet, that could put an efficacy seal on the procedure.
How Good Is The Evidence?
There is a very obvious paucity of real data on topical creams that claim to impact stem cells so far. The results of U Autologous clinical trials so far have received “wow” compliments form the participants. Studies with 19 patients who applied the product on one side of their face and their normal skin care on the other showed that the U Autologous–treated sides had less wrinkles, better skin texture, less sun-damage pigmentation, and less redness, after eight weeks, biopsies confirmed an increase in elastin levels in the dermis.
So Far, So Amazing, But There Is Another Concern We Need To Tackle Here:
Among the molecules produced by stem cells are cytokines, which are responsible for healing damaged cells and promoting cell division but can also affect cell shape and metabolism—meaning that they also might be able to stimulate tumor growth in predisposed individuals. The studies that have looked at stem-cell products and growth factors haven’t shown that as a risk in any trials so far. What’s reported is just an improvement of skin health, and its natural defenses and abilities being magnified. We haven’t seen any negative structural occurrences in the skin, but it is something companies working with stem cells need to continuingly to look at.
Bottom line: If you were to look at the array of stem cell based skin care products on the market, you’d quickly become confused and overwhelmed because they all hold the promise of the “Youth”. Which one is better than the other? No one knows! Each of the “stem cell” products currently available contains a different type of stem cell line: animal, plant, or human stem cells. But which of these types of stem cells is truly effective in producing real, long-term, definitive, results? The proof…will be in the clinical results…where are they?