The buzz around stem cells is growing. Taking the leap from laboratory to clinic and from petri dish to pharmacy shelf, a whole new approach to healing and rejuvenation has taken the world by storm. Stem cell therapies, and products derived from stem cells, hold unlimited promise for the world of health care… and skin care.

What’s even more exciting is the speed with which stem cell technology has evolved to a delightful level of simplicity, literally placing itself at your fingertips.  Let’s get a look in, and understand what makes it all so extraordinary.

Stem cells: vital raw material

Present in both human beings and plants, stem cells have the potential to develop into many different types of cells – blood cells, muscle cells and liver cells, for instance. Of special interest in the field of medicine, stem cells regenerate and repair damaged tissue. So, they can be transplanted into damaged body parts to guide the tissue to grow healthy and function properly.

Stem cells for skin care: making it work for you

Found in the epidermal layer of the skin, stem cells are involved in tissue growth and cellular regeneration, making them interesting to the world of skin care.

Applying a product containing stem-cell extracts has been seen to protect human stem cells from damage and slow deterioration, while stimulating the skin’s own stem cells. Used as a vital new anti-ageing approach, they are also useful in stimulating hair growth and follicular regeneration.

Stem cells used in skincare can be of plant or human origin.

Plant stem cells and the wonder of biology

You may wonder how plant stem cells could interact in any way with human skin. Although it sounds like wishful thinking or science fiction, here’s a key discovery: plant stem cell metabolites encourage human stem cell activity. They can assist in increasing production of human skin cells and collagen, as a result of which they have the potential to deliver anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle properties. They have been seen to improve conditions around the skin stem cells and stimulate cell generation which, in turn, reconstructs skin to denser quality. They also stimulate the secretion of human growth hormone, which binds to human stem cells inside hair follicles for continuous regeneration, in order to help control hair loss.

Plant stem cells are extracted from stem cells found in the meristems, the growing parts of plant tissue, using advanced biotechnological methods. Flowering plants – like the edelweiss, lilac and echinacea- and fruits – such as apple and a rare variety of red grapes – are also a rich source of stem cells, yielding skin care benefits.

Of particular interest, are stem cells from the Argan tree which, in recent years, has set new trends in hair care. Argan stem cells are now at the frontier of anti-ageing skin therapy, delivering on every measurable dimension. They protect skin stem cells from UV-induced oxidative stress. They inhibit inflammation, neutralize free radicals and reverse the effects of photoageing – by reducing hyperpigmentation, age spots, and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. By reducing wrinkle depth, and improving skin tone, texture, elasticity and firmness, stem cells deliver beautifully on the promise of smoother, firmer, younger-looking skin.

Human stem cells: teaching skin cells to repair themselves

Adult stem cells, in the form of mesenchymal stem cells and its protein derivatives, are used for skin care treatments and products. They are the messengers which instruct cells to repair and rejuvenate themselves. The interaction of growth factors, cytokines and helper proteins further aid in the repair and rejuvenation process for skin.

Mesenchymal stem cells can be derived from non-embryonic human stem cells, adipose tissue, bone marrow, and unfertilised human eggs. For skin care products and treatments, Adipose-Derived Stem Cells (ADSCs) are preferred as they are easier to obtain, and the process is less invasive than performing a bone marrow extraction. In addition, adipose tissue contains much larger volumes of mesenchymal stem cells than does bone marrow.

Embryonic stem cells come from embryos which are three to five days old. These cells are pluripotent, which means that they can divide into more stem cells and can become any cell in the body. However a whole host of ethical issues surround the use of embryonic stem cells.

Whatever shape stem cell science takes as it makes its way through growth and maturity, it clearly has the potential to transform skin care – and health care – as we know it. And what you see today is just the beginning.

Written by:

Dr. Mohammad Dallah

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