A layer of lipids covers our skin, and with its help skin retains moisture and remains healthy. In this lipid layer, a compound called ceramide forms a lamellar gel with cholesterol, fatty acids, and water. Mixtures that are thick do not flow easily and can hold large amounts of water. Natural ceramide is therefore an important factor for water retention in our skin. There is a type of lamellar gel, called the "α-gel," that is formulated by mixing compounds called surfactants with a fatty alcohol and water. A-gels are widely used in skincare products such as skin creams.
Scientists from Tokyo University of Science and Miyoshi Oil and Fat Co. Ltd., Japan, have synthesized an α-gel using an oleic acid-based surfactant, which can potentially be used in skincare products. This is a surfactant they had previously developed and is structurally similar to natural ceramide. The study was published in Colloids and Surfaces A. "I was interested in whether α-gels could be prepared using gemini surfactants - two-tailed and two-headed surfactants - and in what their structural and physical properties would be," says study leader Dr. Kenichi Sakai. "It is an environment-friendly functional organic material because even when it is added in small amounts, it exhibits surface chemical functions not inferior to those of conventional surfactants."
The prepared α-gel's ability to hold water and spread out evenly over surfaces makes it suitable for skincare products such as skin creams. The oleic acid-based surfactant is readily soluble in water so its production is easier and possible at low energy-costs.
Skin Patch Study
Another recent study from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia finds that a skin patch may be useful in treating children with a painful, chronic condition called eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) triggered by milk. Among 20 children with EoE who wore Viaskin Milk – a skin patch measuring just over an inch long containing trace amounts of milk protein – nine of them saw an improvement in their symptoms and normalization of their biopsies after 11 months. This is the first study to examine how this treatment, called epicutaneous immunotherapy, may help children with milk-induced EoE.
“This study - published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology - shows great promise for an immunotherapy that aims to desensitize children to milk,” says study leader Jonathan Spergel, MD, Ph.D., Chief of the Allergy Program at CHOP. “Our next step would be to launch a much larger study to confirm our results. Currently, there’s no cure for EoE, so this would be the first strategy to treat the underlying cause of the disease.”
Painless Skin Patch
Researchers also recently developed a skin patch containing tiny needles that painlessly collect interstitial fluid for on-patch diagnostic testing. The new method – reported on in ACS Sensors - could detect the dye as sensitively as the previous multi-step procedure, but with much less time and effort.
Interstitial fluid (ISF) is the colorless liquid that fills spaces between cells in the body and contains some of the same biomarkers found in blood, as well as some unique ones. However, ISF lacks the cells and clotting agents that complicate blood analysis. The researchers developed microneedle patches that can easily and painlessly collect ISF from skin. The fluid collected by the tiny needles goes through a multi-step process of biomarker extraction, centrifugation, sample loading and analysis to detect biomarkers.
Researchers wanted to streamline this procedure so that ISF collected by the skin patch could be analyzed directly with surface-enhanced Raman scattering, a technique that can detect and quantify molecules by looking at how nanomaterials scatter light. They developed a skin patch with nine microneedles, each about the diameter of a human hair and less than one millimeter long. The device also included a strip of plasmonic paper that contained gold nanorods coated with a negatively charged polymer that would attract a model analyte, a positively charged dye.
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With over 30 years of writing and editing experience for newspapers, magazines and corporate communications, Kevin Kerfoot writes about natural health, nutrition, skincare and oral hygiene for Trusted Health Products’ natural health blog and newsletters.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.