The fight against aging has received a scientific boost thanks to aninnovative study done in part by a University of Alberta spin-offcompany--research that dispels a hard-held belief about the naturalingredient, beta glucan. The study, published in the current issue ofInternational Journal of Cosmetic Science, is the first to show thatoat beta glucan can penetrate the skin despite years of doctors andscientists believing that the large molecule was too big.
The finding is significant, not only in the treatment of skin disordersand removing fine lines and wrinkles but in the promotion of woundhealing and reduction in scaring following surgical procedures, saysDr. Mark Redmond, president and CEO of Ceapro Inc, a spin-off companyformed in the late 1980s to commercialize technology from theUniversity of Alberta's faculties of pharmacy and medicine for thetreatment of cold sores.
Beta-glucan is the soluble fiber found in the cell walls of oatkernels. Oat has a long history of safe use in providing fast,temporary relief of itching and pain associated with minor skinirritations, has reported to improve the appearance of smoother skinand has helped wound healing. But it has been long believed that such alarge molecule as beta glucan was too big to penetrate the skin.
In this paper, Redmond and his co-authors describe using betaglucan-specific tracking dyes to show the skin penetration did takeplace. "Interestingly, the glucan penetrates in the same way that waterpenetrates a brick wall--it does not go through the brick, it goesthrough the concrete binding the bricks together," says Redmond. "As aresult of our study, we now know that glucan works through theinter-cellular lipid matrix, or the cells' cement, to enter the lowerlevels of the skin. Of medical significance is the fact that betaglucan creams promote wound healing and reduction in scaring followingsurgical procedures."
The research team, made up of Redmond, Ravi Pillai and Joachim Rodingboth from Symrise, then measured the depth of the skin that the glucanpenetrated. Photographs show the actual reduction of wrinkles andconsumers should expect to see similar results on themselves in aslittle as 10 days, says Redmond. Beta glucan is already used in anumber of products available to consumers including brand name productsfrom Johnson and Johnson and Schering Plough. "The proof that weprovide in this paper and other research that we have conducted is thatglucan can have a specific and measurable effect on skin beyond makingyou look good and feeling great," says Redmond. "We also haveindications that a number of applications in cosmetics are in the worksto use glucan as the non-invasive alternative to Botox for those whoare afraid of needles."
Ceapro has also discovered that beta glucan can be used as atransdermal delivery system to feed drugs and other compounds into theskin. This development may lead to new and better ways of deliveringsuch medicines as antihistamines and pain relievers.
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