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Friday
Oct122012

Is Snail Slime the Latest Beauty Breakthrough?

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- An old adage used to say little boys were made of "slugs and snails and puppy dog tails."  But at least two of those ingredients are apparently finding their way into the opposite sex's makeup bags.

The Daily Mail reports snail slime -- that mucusy trail left behind by snails and slugs -- has been used for years as a skin cream in Asia, but the slimy stuff is starting to get traction in over-the-counter cosmetics in the U.S.  The paper reports a Korean company called It's Skin makes a product called Prestige Cream D’escargot, which contains 21 percent snail slime.

Some insist the components in the slime do for humans what they do for the snails' feet -- helping to repair damage, hold in moisture, protect the organisms from UV rays, and stop blemishes.  The claims have not been widely scientifically proven, however, but that's not stopping stores like Sephora and other retailers from stocking the slimy stuff.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul032012

Gene Altering Lotion May Treat Skin Diseases

Comstock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Imagine a lotion that can treat irreversible genetic skin diseases like psoriasis or life-threatening skin cancers like melanoma.

Researchers at Northwestern University say they're another step closer to creating a treatment that will naturally slip through the skin and genetically alter cells to treat a particular skin disease.

Using creams and lotions to target a particular problem area is seen as a great advantage among many dermatologists in treating a localized skin problem.

"We like to treat skin diseases with topical creams so that we avoid side effects from treatments taken by mouth or injected," said Dr. Amy Paller, chair of dermatology and professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

But the difficulty among researchers has been creating a gene-altering topical agent that can successfully penetrate the skin to specifically treat genetic skin diseases.

"The problem is that our skin is a formidable barrier," Paller said.  "Genetic material can't get through the skin through regular means."

Using nanotechnology, the researchers packaged gene-altering structures on top of tiny particles of gold designed to target epidermal growth factor receptor, a genetic marker associated with many types of skin cancers.  The structure is designed to sneak through the skin and latch onto targets underneath without eliciting an immune response.

The researchers mixed the structure into the ointment Aquaphor, which is commonly used among many patients who have dry skin or irritation.

The researchers then rubbed the ointment onto the mice and onto human skin tissue and saw that the gene-altering structure in the lotion successfully penetrated the skin and was able to shut down the potentially cancer-causing protein, according to the findings published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The preliminary study is regarded as the first to deliver topical gene therapy effectively with no toxic effects.

But even with no documented side effects found in the study, nanotechnology treatments, especially those that rely on gold particles, can potentially cause problems in the body in the long term, according to Dr. Mark Abdelmalek, chief of the division of laser and dermatologic surgery at Drexel University School of Medicine.

"It's naive to expect that putting something like this in the body would have absolutely no side effects," he said.

Another unknown is whether the approach will work on humans, and what the long term effects may be, he said.

"It is temporarily changing the protein while the structure is in contact with the cells, but it doesn't permanently change the genetic defect," Abdelmalek said.  "This is all brand new and exciting, but there's still many things we just don't know."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio