Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Synthesizing The Most Natural Of All Skin Creams

Date:
March 24, 2009
Source:
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF)
Summary:
New research could help millions of people with skin problems. Even after nine months soaking in the womb, a newborn’s skin is smooth – unlike an adult’s in the bath. While occupying a watery, warm environment, the newborn manages to develop a skin fully equipped to protect it in a cold, dry and bacteria-infected world.

Scientist working on the DUBBLE beamline.
Credit: Image courtesy of Artechnique

Even after nine months soaking in the womb, a newborn’s skin is smooth – unlike an adult’s in the bath. While occupying a watery, warm environment, the newborn manages to develop a skin fully equipped to protect it in a cold, dry and bacteria-infected world.

Related Articles


A protective cream called Vernix caseosa (VC), which covers the fetus and the newborn, aids in the growth of skin both before and after birth. VC provides ‘waterproofing’ in utero, allowing skin to grow in wet conditions, while after birth it hydrates and cleanses, even healing when applied to ulcers. Prof. Joke Bouwstra, a specialist in the skin barrier and its synthesis at Leiden University, and her colleague Robert Ribmann set out to study VC in detail and has produced a synthetic version of this natural buttery ointment which shows the same structure and unique properties. As well as helping pre-term babies develop essential protection against temperature changes, dehydration and infection, artificial VC could also benefit sufferers of skin disease.

Like most moisturising creams, VC is mostly water. Its outstanding properties come from the addition of just 10% each of lipid molecules and dead skin cells (corneocytes), so the exact composition of the mixture is important.

For the lipids, X-ray diffraction measurements at the Dutch/Flemish DUBBLE beamline at the ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) allowed the Leiden researchers to find the proportions of the various forms in the cream, even distinguishing between complex molecules differing in chain length.

The corneocytes were also studied using electron microscopy, yielding their size, shape and water content.

But equally important is how the mixture arranges itself. Lipid molecules are shaped something like lollipops, with a round end that prefers to be surrounded by water and a stick which prefers to make a raft with other lollipop sticks. VC contains several different lengths of lipids, which form different arrangements as the temperature changes. The result is that VC fulfils different functions inside and outside the womb, just as butter behaves differently in the oven and on the table. Again, the ESRF’s synchrotron light was used to illuminate the corneocytes and lipids together and look for any clumps or other ordering. Once they knew exactly what VC was made of and how it was arranged, they set about creating a synthetic version.

A readily available natural source of the sort of fat molecules needed is lanolin, the oil found in sheep’s wool, which is currently used as a skin treatment by some nursing mothers. The team isolated the fats which were the closest match to the measurements they had of VC, and used them to create a synthetic solution with the same behaviour. The corneocytes were synthesized by M.H.M. Oudshoorn from the Utrecht University.

When combined, these synthetic ingredients made a cream which looked the same using both x-ray measurements and light microscopy as VC, while allowing the researchers to alter the water content and other properties at will. After pre-clinical testing, the developed creams showed great potential for use on disrupted and underdeveloped skin: the skin barrier recovered much more quickly when synthetic VC was applied.

These promising results will give rise to future clinical studies, in order to prove the benefits of the newly developed creams in treating healthy, dry and diseased human skin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). "Synthesizing The Most Natural Of All Skin Creams." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317095032.htm>.
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). (2009, March 24). Synthesizing The Most Natural Of All Skin Creams. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317095032.htm
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). "Synthesizing The Most Natural Of All Skin Creams." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317095032.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins