New theory of wrinkle formation focuses on effects of DNA damage

September 1, 2010

The newest theory of wrinkle formation is that wrinkles are related to a defective clone of cells that reproduce over a lifetime to produce a skin fold. DNA damage is at the center of the wrinkle.

Key Points

Q. What is the newest theory of wrinkle formation?

A. The newest theory of wrinkle formation is that wrinkles are related to a defective clone of cells that reproduce over a lifetime to produce a skin fold. DNA damage is at the center of the wrinkle.

A. Genomics is the study of the human genome and how changes in DNA and the expression of DNA can lead to a better understanding of skin needs at various ages. For example, the amount of collagenase present in old sun-exposed skin is higher than in young sun-protected skin. One way to minimize the damaging effect of collagenase on dermal collagen would be to avoid the sun, but another approach might be to put a substance in a moisturizer that would downregulate collagenase production. Genomics are being used to determine what changes occur in gene expression and then how this expression can be modified by topical agents.

Q. How do bioinformatics relate to skincare?

A. Bioinformatics is a new field combining the disciplines of data analysis, statistics and computer science. It is the name given to the analysis of large data sets of biologic information. For example, when a gene chip is used to analyze the effect of a given botanical extract on the up- or downregulation of 12,000 cellular markers, the data must be systematically analyzed to obtain useful information. The scientist wants to know if the botanical extract has the desired effect on the skin. It is through the use of bioinformatics that this question can be scientifically answered. Typically, a computer program is written to organize the results of the gene chip array. Once the results are organized, statistics can be used to determine whether a significant change was produced by the novel extract. If the novel extract is found to have produced a desirable effect, it then can be moved forward into clinical testing. Changes observed on the microscopic level must have macroscopic effects for such extracts to be successful skincare ingredients.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a Dermatology Times editorial adviser and consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. Questions may be submitted via e-mail to zdraelos@northstate.net
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