Thursday, 3 November 2011

Could a new drug that prevents wrinkles be the end for anti-ageing creams?

Anti-ageing is BIG business in the beauty industry and is by far the best-performing sector in skincare, as people are prepared to continually shell out their hard earned cash on their quest for the Holy Grail ‘miracle’ product that might just deliver youthful skin. So could the latest news that a new drug tested on mice significantly delayed the loss of fatty deposits under the skin, which in humans prevents wrinkles from forming, really sound the gong for the anti-ageing skincare industry as we know it?

The drug was devised by scientists at the Mayo Clinic in America to kill the ‘senescent cells’ in mice, which accumulate in the body tissue of mice and humans over time and speeds up the ageing process in the areas in which they gather. The body naturally clears itself of senescent cells, but as the body ages this process slows down and therefore the senescent cells start to amass and cause trouble.

While there is no suggestion that senescent cells can be removed from humans in the same way that was achieved with the mice, what this research does prove is that senescent cells are linked to the ageing process and so further research can be made into this area.

This presents two possibilities for the future: the immune system could potentially be taught to clear senescent cells more persistently as we age, or perhaps a drug could be developed to kill senescent cells. Or, rather than stopping anti-ageing skincare in its tracks, could it spark a new wave of skincare products that aim to target senescent cells? Only time will tell, and I suspect we will have to wait a long time. Hopefully not too long that we’ll all be old and wrinkly by then anyway.

While I talk about these findings from a beauty industry point of view, crucially, the development of this research could also improve the quality of life during old age, as the drug also dramatically delayed muscle wastage and the start of cataracts. So vanity aside, this research has the potential to have a huge effect on all our lives in the future.