Category Archives: beauty and cosmetics

Ceapro (a Canadian biotech company) and its pressurized gas expanded technology with a mention of cellulose nanocrystals

At the mention of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), my interest was piqued. From a Nov. 10, 2015 news item on Nanotechnology Now,

Ceapro Inc. (TSX VENTURE:CZO) (“Ceapro” or the “Company”), a growth-stage biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of active ingredients for healthcare and cosmetic industries, announced that Bernhard Seifried, Ph.D., Ceapro’s Senior Research Scientist and a co-inventor of its proprietary Pressurized Gas Expanded Technology (PGX) will present this morning [Nov. 10, 2015] at the prestigious 2015 Composites at Lake Louise engineering conference.

A Nov. 10, 2015 Ceapro press release, which originated the news item, describes the technology in a little more detail and briefly mentions cellulose nanocrystals (Note: A link has been removed),

Dr. Seifried will make a podium presentation entitled, “PGX – Technology: A versatile technology for generating advanced biopolymer materials,” which will feature the unique advantages of Ceapro’s enabling technology for processing aqueous solutions or dispersions of high molecular weight biopolymers, such as starch, polysaccharides, gums, pectins or cellulose nanocrystals, into open-porous morphologies, consisting of nano-scale particles and pores.

Gilles Gagnon, M.Sc., MBA, President and CEO of Ceapro, stated, “Our disruptive PGX enabling technology facilitates biopolymer processing at a new level for generating unique highly porous biopolymer morphologies that can be impregnated with bioactives/APIs or functionalized with other biopolymers to generate exfoliated nano-composites and novel advanced material. We believe this technology will provide transformational solutions not only for our internal programs, but importantly, can be applied much more broadly for Companies with whom we intend to partner globally.”

Utilizing its PGX technology, Ceapro successfully produces its bioactive pharmaceutical grade powder formulation of beta glucan, which is an ingredient in a number of personal care cosmeceutical products as well as a therapeutic agent used for wound healing and a lubricative agent integrated into injectable systems used to treat conditions like urinary incontinence. The Company is developing its enabling PGX platform at the commercial scale level. In order to fully exploit the use of this innovative technology, Ceapro has recently decided to further expand its new world-class manufacturing facility by 10,000 square feet.

“The PGX platform generates unique morphologies that are not possible to produce with other conventional drying systems,” Mr. Gagnon continued. “The ultra-light, highly porous polymer structures produced with PGX have a huge potential for use in an abundant number of applications ranging from functional foods, nutraceuticals, drug delivery and cosmeceuticals, to advanced technical applications.”

Ceapro’s novel PGX Technology can be utilized for a wide variety of bio-industrial processing applications including:

  • Dry aqueous solutions or dispersions of polymers derived from agricultural and/or forestry feedstock, such as polysaccharides, gums, biopolymers at mild processing conditions (40⁰C).
  • Purify biopolymers by removing lipids, salts, sugars and other contaminants, impurities and odours during the precipitation and drying process.
  • Micronize the polymer to a matrix consisting of highly porous fibrils or spherical particles having nano-scale features depending on polymer molecular structure.
  • Functionalize the polymer matrix by generating exfoliated nano-composites of various polymers forming fibers and/or spheres simply by mixing various aqueous polymer solutions/dispersions prior to PGX processing.
  • Impregnate the polymer matrix homogeneously with thermo-sensitive bioactives and/or hydrophobic modifiers to tune solubility of the final polymer bioactive matrix all in the same processing equipment at mild conditions (40⁰C).
  • Extract valuable bioactives at mild conditions from fermentation slurries, while drying the residual biomass.

The highly tune-able PGX process can generate exfoliated nano-composites and highly porous morphologies ranging from sub-micron particles (50nm) to micron-sized granules (2mm), as well as micro- and nanofibrils, granules, fine powders and aerogels with porosities of >99% and specific surface areas exceeding 300 m2/gram. The technology is based on a spray drying method, operating at mild temperatures (40°C) and moderate pressures (100-200 bar) utilizing PGX liquids, which is comprised of a mixture of food grade, recyclable solvents, generally regarded as safe (GRAS), such as pressurized carbon dioxide and anhydrous ethanol. The unique properties of PGX liquids afford single phase conditions and very low or vanishing interfacial tension during the spraying process. This then allows the generation of extremely fine particle morphologies with high porosity and a large specific surface area resulting in favorable solubilisation properties. This platform drying technology has been successfully scaled up from lab scale to pilot scale with a processing capacity of about 200 kg/hr of aqueous solutions.

Ceapro is based in Edmonton in the province of Alberta. This is a province with a CNC (cellulose nanocrytals) pilot production plant as I noted in my Nov. 10, 2013 posting where I belatedly mentioned the plant’s September 2013 commissioning date. The plant was supposed to have had a grand opening in 2014 according to a Sept. 12, 2013 Alberta Innovates Technology Futures [AITF] news release,

“Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures is proud to host and operate Western Canada’s only CNC pilot plant,” said Stephen Lougheed, AITF’s President and CEO. “Today’s commissioning is an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to provide technological know-how to our research and industry partners in their continued applied R&D and commercialization efforts. We’re able to provide researchers with more CNC than ever before, thereby accelerating the development of commercial applications.”

Members of Alberta’s and Western Canada’s growing CNC communities of expertise and interest spent the afternoon exploring potential commercial applications for the cellulose-based ‘wonder material.’

The CNC Pilot Plant’s Grand Opening is planned for 2014. [emphasis mine]

I have not been able to find any online trace of the plant’s grand opening. But I did find a few things. The AITF website has a page dedicated to CNC and its pilot plant and there’s a slide show about CNC and occupational health and safety from members of Alberta’s CNC Pilot Plant Research Team for their project, which started in 2014.

No mention in the Alberta media materials is ever made of CelluForce, a CNC production plant in the province of Québec, which predates the Alberta plant by more than 18 months (my Dec. 15, 2011 posting).

One last comment, CNC or cellulose nanocrystals are sometimes called nanocrystalline cellulose or NCC. This is a result of Canadians who were leaders at the time naming the substance NCC but over time researchers and producers from other countries have favoured the term CNC. Today (2015), the NCC term has been trademarked by Celluforce.

Safer sunblock and bioadhesive nanoparticles from Yale University

The skin has a lot of protective barriers but it’s always possible to make something better so a sunblock that doesn’t penetrate teh skin at all seems like it might be a good thing. Interestingly, this new sunblock or sunscreen is enabled by nanoparticles but not the metallic nanoparticles found in what are sometimes called nanosunscreens. From a Sept. 29, 2015 news item on Nanowerk,

Researchers at Yale have developed a sunscreen that doesn’t penetrate the skin, eliminating serious health concerns associated with commercial sunscreens.

Most commercial sunblocks are good at preventing sunburn, but they can go below the skin’s surface and enter the bloodstream. As a result, they pose possible hormonal side effects and could even be promoting the kind of skin cancers they’re designed to prevent.

But researchers at Yale have developed a new sunblock, made with bioadhesive nanoparticles, that stays on the surface of the skin.

A Sept. 28, 2015 Yale University news release by William Weir, whch originated the news item, describes the research in more detail,

“We found that when we apply the sunblock to the skin, it doesn’t come off, and more importantly, it doesn’t penetrate any further into the skin,” said the paper’s senior author, Mark Saltzman, the Goizueta Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering. “Nanoparticles are large enough to keep from going through the skin’s surface, and our nanoparticles are so adhesive that they don’t even go into hair follicles, which are relatively open.”

Using mouse models, the researchers tested their sunblock against direct ultraviolet rays and their ability to cause sunburn. In this regard, even though it used a significantly smaller amount of the active ingredient than commercial sunscreens, the researchers’ formulation protected equally well against sunburn.

They also looked at an indirect — and much less studied — effect of UV light. When the active ingredients of sunscreen absorb UV light, a chemical change triggers the generation of oxygen-carrying molecules known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). If a sunscreen’s agents penetrate the skin, this chemical change could cause cellular damage, and potentially facilitate skin cancer.

“Commercial chemical sunblock is protective against the direct hazards of ultraviolet damage of DNA, but might not be against the indirect ones,” said co-author Michael Girardi, a professor of dermatology at Yale Medical School. “In fact, the indirect damage was worse when we used the commercial sunblock.”

Girardi, who specializes in skin cancer development and progression, said little research has been done on the ultimate effects of sunblock usage and the generation of ROS, “but obviously, there’s concern there.”

Previous studies have found traces of commercial sunscreen chemicals in users’ bloodstreams, urine, and breast milk. There is evidence that these chemicals cause disruptions with the endocrine system, such as blocking sex hormone receptors.

To test penetration levels, the researchers applied strips of adhesive tape to skin previously treated with sunscreen. The tape was then removed rapidly, along with a thin layer of skin. Repeating this procedure allowed the researchers to remove the majority of the outer skin layer, and measure how deep the chemicals had penetrated into the skin. Traces of the sunscreen chemical administered in a conventional way were found to have soaked deep within the skin. The Yale team’s sunblock came off entirely with the initial tape strips.

Tests also showed that a substantial amount of the Yale team’s sunscreen remained on the skin’s surface for days, even after exposure to water. When wiped repeatedly with a towel, the new sunblock was entirely removed. [emphasis mine]

To make the sunblock, the researchers developed a nanoparticle with a surface coating rich in aldehyde groups, which stick tenaciously to the outer skin layer. The nanoparticle’s hydrophilic layer essentially locks in the active ingredient, a hydrophobic chemical called padimate O.

Some sunscreen solutions that use larger particles of inorganic compounds, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, also don’t penetrate the skin. For aesthetic reasons, though, these opaque sunscreen products aren’t very popular. By using a nanoparticle to encase padimate O, an organic chemical used in many commercial sunscreens, the Yale team’s sunblock is both transparent and stays out of the skin cells and bloodstream.

This seems a little confusing to me and I think clarification may be helpful. My understanding is that the metallic nanoparticles (nano titanium dioxide and nano zinc oxide) engineered for use in commercial sunscreens are also (in addition to the macroscale titanium dioxide and zinc oxide referred to in the Yale news release) too large to pass through the skin. At least that was the understanding in 2010 and I haven’t stumbled across any information that is contradictory. Here’s an excerpt from a July 20, 2010 posting where I featured portions of a debate between Georgia Miller (at that time representing Friends of the Earth) and Dr. Andrew Maynard (at that time director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center and a longtime participant in the nanotechnology risk discussions),

Three of the scientists whose work was cited by FoE as proof that nanosunscreens are dangerous either posted directly or asked Andrew to post comments which clarified the situation with exquisite care,

Despite FoE’s implications that nanoparticles in sunscreens might cause cancer because they are photoactive, Peter Dobson points out that there are nanomaterials used in sunscreens that are designed not to be photoactive. Brian Gulson, who’s work on zinc skin penetration was cited by FoE, points out that his studies only show conclusively that zinc atoms or ions can pass through the skin, not that nanoparticles can pass through. He also notes that the amount of zinc penetration from zinc-based sunscreens is very much lower than the level of zinc people have in their body in the first place. Tilman Butz, who led one of the largest projects on nanoparticle penetration through skin to date, points out that – based on current understanding – the nanoparticles used in sunscreens are too large to penetrate through the skin.

However, there may be other ingredients which do pass through into the bloodstream and are concerning.

One other thing I’d like to note. Not being able to remove the sunscreen easily ( “When wiped repeatedly with a towel, the new sunblock was entirely removed.”) may prove to be a problem as we need Vitamin D, which is for the most part obtainable by sun exposure.

In any event, here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

A sunblock based on bioadhesive nanoparticles by Yang Deng, Asiri Ediriwickrema, Fan Yang, Julia Lewis, Michael Girardi, & W. Mark Saltzman. Nature Materials (2015) doi:10.1038/nmat4422 Published online 28 September 2015

This paper is behind a paywall.

Sunscreen based on algae, reef fish mucus, and chitosan

The proposed sunscreen is all natural and would seem to avoid some of the environmental problems associated with other sunscreens (e.g., washing off into the ocean and polluting it). From a July 29, 2015 American Chemical Society (ACS) news release (also on EurekAlert), Note: Links have been removed,

For consumers searching for just the right sunblock this summer, the options can be overwhelming. But scientists are now turning to the natural sunscreen of algae — which is also found in fish slime — to make a novel kind of shield against the sun’s rays that could protect not only people, but also textiles and outdoor materials. …

Existing sunblock lotions typically work by either absorbing ultraviolet rays or physically blocking them. A variety of synthetic and natural compounds can accomplish this. But most commercial options have limited efficiency, pose risks to the environment and human health or are not stable. To address these shortcomings, Vincent Bulone, Susana C. M. Fernandes and colleagues looked to nature for inspiration.

The researchers used algae’s natural sunscreen molecules, which can also be found in reef fish mucus and microorganisms, and combined them with chitosan, a biopolymer from crustacean shells. Testing showed their materials were biocompatible, stood up well in heat and light, and absorbed both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation with high efficiency.

The authors acknowledge funding from the European Commission Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, the KTH Advanced Carbohydrate Materials Consortium (CarboMat), the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS) and the Basque Government Department of Education.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Exploiting Mycosporines as Natural Molecular Sunscreens for the Fabrication of UV-Absorbing Green Material by Susana C. M. Fernandes, Ana Alonso-Varona, Teodoro Palomares, Verónica Zubillaga, Jalel Labidi, and Vincent Bulone.
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/acsami.5b04064 Publication Date (Web): July 13, 2015
Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society

This paper is behind a paywall.

Cosmetics giant, L’Oréal, to 3D print skin

L’Oréal, according to a May 19, 2015 BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) online news item, has partnered with Organovo, a 3D bioprinting startup, to begin producing skin,

French cosmetics firm L’Oreal is teaming up with bio-engineering start-up Organovo to 3D-print human skin.

It said the printed skin would be used in product tests.

Organovo has already made headlines with claims that it can 3D-print a human liver but this is its first tie-up with the cosmetics industry.

Experts said the science might be legitimate but questioned why a beauty firm would want to print skin. [emphasis mine]

L’Oreal currently grows skin samples from tissues donated by plastic surgery patients. It produces more than 100,000, 0.5 sq cm skin samples per year and grows nine varieties across all ages and ethnicities.

Its statement explaining the advantage of printing skin, offered little detail: “Our partnership will not only bring about new advanced in vitro methods for evaluating product safety and performance, but the potential for where this new field of technology and research can take us is boundless.”

The beauty and cosmetics industry has a major interest in technology, especially anything to do with the skin. I’m curious as to what kind of an expert wouldn’t realize that cosmetics companies test products on skin and might like to have a ready supply. Still, I have to admit to surprise when I first (2006) started researching nanotechnology;  L’Oréal at one point was the sixth largest nanotechnology patent holder in the US (see my Nanotech Mysteries Wiki page: Marketers put the buy in nano [scroll down to Penetration subhead]). In 2008 L’Oréal company representatives were set for a discussion on their nanotechnology efforts and the precautionary principle, which was to be hosted by the Wilson Center’s Project for Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN). The company cancelled at a rather interesting time as I had noted in my June 19, 2008 posting. (scroll down about 40% of the way until you see mention of Dr. Andrew Maynard).

Back to 3D printing technology and cosmetics giants, a May 5, 2015 Organovo/L’Oréal press release provides more detail about the deal,

L’Oreal USA, the largest subsidiary of the world’s leading beauty company, has announced a partnership with 3-D bioprinting company Organovo Holdings, Inc. (NYSE MKT: ONVO) (“Organovo”).  Developed between L’Oreal’s U.S.-based global Technology Incubator and Organovo, the collaboration will leverage Organovo’s proprietary NovoGen Bioprinting Platform and L’Oreal’s expertise in skin engineering to develop 3-D printed skin tissue for product evaluation and other areas of advanced research.

This partnership marks the first-ever application of Organovo’s groundbreaking technology within the beauty industry.

“We developed our technology incubator to uncover disruptive innovations across industries that have the potential to transform the beauty business,” said Guive Balooch, Global Vice President of L’Oreal’s Technology Incubator.  “Organovo has broken new ground with 3-D bioprinting, an area that complements L’Oreal’s pioneering work in the research and application of reconstructed skin for the past 30 years. Our partnership will not only bring about new advanced in vitro methods for evaluating product safety and performance, but the potential for where this new field of technology and research can take us is boundless.”

Organovo’s 3D bioprinting enables the reproducible, automated creation of living human tissues that mimic the form and function of native tissues in the body.

“We are excited to be partnering with L’Oreal, whose leadership in the beauty industry is rooted in scientific innovation and a deep commitment to research and development,” said Keith Murphy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Organovo. “This partnership is a great next step to expand the applications of Organovo’s 3-D bioprinting technology and to create value for both L’Oreal and Organovo by building new breakthroughs in skin modeling.”

I don’t have much information about Organovo here, certainly nothing about the supposed liver (how did I miss that?), but there is a Dec. 26, 2012 posting about its deal with software giant, Autodesk.

Nanopollution of marine life

Concerns are being raised about nanosunscreens and nanotechnology-enabled marine paints and their effect on marine life, specifically, sea urchins. From a May 13, 2015 news item on Nanowerk (Note: A link has been removed),

Nanomaterials commonly used in sunscreens and boat-bottom paints are making sea urchin embryos more vulnerable to toxins, according to a study from the University of California, Davis [UC Davis]. The authors said this could pose a risk to coastal, marine and freshwater environments.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology (“Copper Oxide and Zinc Oxide Nanomaterials Act as Inhibitors of Multidrug Resistance Transport in Sea Urchin Embryos: Their Role as Chemosensitizers”), is the first to show that the nanomaterials work as chemosensitizers. In cancer treatments, a chemosensitizer makes tumor cells more sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy.

Similarly, nanozinc and nanocopper made developing sea urchin embryos more sensitive to other chemicals, blocking transporters that would otherwise defend them by pumping toxins out of cells.

A May 12, 2015 UC Davis news release, which originated the news item, includes some cautions,

Nanozinc oxide is used as an additive in cosmetics such as sunscreens, toothpastes and beauty products. Nanocopper oxide is often used for electronics and technology, but also for antifouling paints, which prevent things like barnacles and mussels from attaching to boats.

“At low levels, both of these nanomaterials are nontoxic,” said co-author Gary Cherr, professor and interim director of the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, and an affiliate of the UC Davis Coastal Marine Sciences Institute. “However, for sea urchins in sensitive life stages, they disrupt the main defense mechanism that would otherwise protect them from environmental toxins.”

Science for safe design

Nanomaterials are tiny chemical substances measured in nanometers, which are about 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Nano-sized particles can enter the body through the skin, ingestion, or inhalation. They are being rapidly introduced across the fields of electronics, medicine and technology, where they are being used to make energy efficient batteries, clean up oil spills, and fight cancer, among many other uses. However, relatively little is known about nanomaterials with respect to the environment and health.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Copper Oxide and Zinc Oxide Nanomaterials Act as Inhibitors of Multidrug Resistance Transport in Sea Urchin Embryos: Their Role as Chemosensitizers by Bing Wu, Cristina Torres-Duarte, Bryan J. Cole, and Gary N. Cherr. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2015, 49 (9), pp 5760–5770 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00345 Publication Date (Web): April 7, 2015

Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society

This paper is behind a paywall.

While this research into nanoparticles as chemosensitizers is, according to UC Davis, the first of its kind, the concern over nanosunscreens and marine waters has been gaining traction over the last few years. For example, there’s  research featured in a June 10, 2013 article by Roberta Kwok for the University of Washington’s ‘Conservation This Week’ magazine,

Sunscreen offers protection from UV rays, reduces the risk of skin cancer, and even slows down signs of aging. Unfortunately, researchers have found that sunscreen also pollutes the ocean.

Although people have been using these products for decades, “the effect of sunscreens, as a source of introduced chemicals to the coastal marine system, has not yet been addressed,” a research team writes in PLOS ONE. Sunscreens contain chemicals not only for UV protection, but also for coloring, fragrance, and texture. And beaches are becoming ever-more-popular vacation spots; for example, nearly 10 million tourists visited Majorca Island in the Mediterranean Sea in 2010.

Here’s a link to the 2013 PLOS ONE paper,

Sunscreen Products as Emerging Pollutants to Coastal Waters by Antonio Tovar-Sánchez, David Sánchez-Quiles, Gotzon Basterretxea, Juan L. Benedé, Alberto Chisvert, Amparo Salvador, Ignacio Moreno-Garrido, and Julián Blasco. PLOS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065451 Published: June 5, 2013

This is an open access journal.

Animal-based (some of it ‘fishy’) sunscreen from Oregon State University

In the Northern Hemisphere countries it’s time to consider one’s sunscreen options.While this Oregon State University into animal-based sunscreens is intriguing,  market-ready options likely won’t be available for quite some time. (There is a second piece of related research, more ‘fishy’ in nature [pun], featured later in this post.) From a May 12, 2015 Oregon State University news release,

Researchers have discovered why many animal species can spend their whole lives outdoors with no apparent concern about high levels of solar exposure: they make their own sunscreen.

The findings, published today in the journal eLife by scientists from Oregon State University, found that many fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds can naturally produce a compound called gadusol, which among other biologic activities provides protection from the ultraviolet, or sun-burning component of sunlight.

The researchers also believe that this ability may have been obtained through some prehistoric, natural genetic engineering.

Here’s an amusing image to illustrate the researchers’ point,

Gadusol is the gene found in some animals which gives natural sun protection. Courtesy: Oregon State University

Gadusol is the gene found in some animals which gives natural sun protection.
Courtesy: Oregon State University

The news release goes on to describe gadusol and its believed evolutionary pathway,

The gene that provides the capability to produce gadusol is remarkably similar to one found in algae, which may have transferred it to vertebrate animals – and because it’s so valuable, it’s been retained and passed along for hundreds of millions of years of animal evolution.

“Humans and mammals don’t have the ability to make this compound, but we’ve found that many other animal species do,” said Taifo Mahmud, a professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy, and lead author on the research.

The genetic pathway that allows gadusol production is found in animals ranging from rainbow trout to the American alligator, green sea turtle and a farmyard chicken.

“The ability to make gadusol, which was first discovered in fish eggs, clearly has some evolutionary value to be found in so many species,” Mahmud said. “We know it provides UV-B protection, it makes a pretty good sunscreen. But there may also be roles it plays as an antioxidant, in stress response, embryonic development and other functions.”

In their study, the OSU researchers also found a way to naturally produce gadusol in high volumes using yeast. With continued research, it may be possible to develop gadusol as an ingredient for different types of sunscreen products, cosmetics or pharmaceutical products for humans.

A conceptual possibility, Mahmud said, is that ingestion of gadusol could provide humans a systemic sunscreen, as opposed to a cream or compound that has to be rubbed onto the skin.

The existence of gadusol had been known of in some bacteria, algae and other life forms, but it was believed that vertebrate animals could only obtain it from their diet. The ability to directly synthesize what is essentially a sunscreen may play an important role in animal evolution, and more work is needed to understand the importance of this compound in animal physiology and ecology, the researchers said.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

De novo synthesis of a sunscreen compound in vertebrates by Andrew R Osborn, Khaled H Almabruk, Garrett Holzwarth, Shumpei Asamizu, Jane LaDu, Kelsey M Kean, P Andrew Karplus, Robert L Tanguay, Alan T Bakalinsky, and Taifo Mahmud. eLife 2015;4:e05919 DOI: Published May 12, 2015

This is an open access paper.

The second piece of related research, also published yesterday on May 12, 2015, comes from a pair of scientists at Harvard University. From a May 12, 2015  eLife news release on EurekAlert,

Scientists from Oregon State University [two authors are listed for the ‘zebrafish’ paper and both are from Harvard University] have discovered that fish can produce their own sunscreen. They have copied the method used by fish for potential use in humans.

In the study published in the journal eLife, scientists found that zebrafish are able to produce a chemical called gadusol that protects against UV radiation. They successfully reproduced the method that zebrafish use by expressing the relevant genes in yeast. The findings open the door to large-scale production of gadusol for sunscreen and as an antioxidant in pharmaceuticals.

Gadusol was originally identified in cod roe and has since been discovered in the eyes of the mantis shrimp, sea urchin eggs, sponges, and in the dormant eggs and newly hatched larvae of brine shrimps. It was previously thought that fish can only acquire the chemical through their diet or through a symbiotic relationship with bacteria.

Marine organisms in the upper ocean and on reefs are subject to intense and often unrelenting sunlight. Gadusol and related compounds are of great scientific interest for their ability to protect against DNA damage from UV rays. There is evidence that amphibians, reptiles, and birds can also produce gadusol, while the genetic machinery is lacking in humans and other mammals.

The team were investigating compounds similar to gadusol that are used to treat diabetes and fungal infections. It was believed that the biosynthetic enzyme common to all of them, EEVS, was only present in bacteria. The scientists were surprised to discover that fish and other vertebrates contain similar genes to those that code for EEVS.

Curious about their function in animals, they expressed the zebrafish gene in E. coli and analysis suggested that fish combine EEVS with another protein, whose production may be induced by light, to produce gadusol. To check that this combination is really sufficient, the scientists transferred the genes to yeast and set them to work to see what they would create. This confirmed the production of gadusol. Its successful production in yeast provides a viable route to commercialisation.

As well as providing UV protection, gadusol may also play a role in stress responses, in embryonic development, and as an antioxidant.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the second paper from this loosely affiliated team of Oregon State University and Harvard University researchers,

Biochemistry: Shedding light on sunscreen biosynthesis in zebrafish by Carolyn A Brotherton and Emily P Balskus. eLife 2015;4:e07961 DOI: Published May 12, 2015

This paper, too, is open access.

One final bit and this is about the journal, eLife, from their news release on EurekAlert,

About eLife

eLife is a unique collaboration between the funders and practitioners of research to improve the way important research is selected, presented, and shared. eLife publishes outstanding works across the life sciences and biomedicine — from basic biological research to applied, translational, and clinical studies. eLife is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust. Learn more at

It seems this journal is a joint, US (Howard Hughes Medical Institute), German (Max Planck Society), UK (Wellcome Trust) effort.

Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) for Science and Technology and an award for Dr. Mahiran Basri

Professor Dr Mahiran Basri of the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) received an award from the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) for Science and Technology (I believe the similarity of ISESCO to UNESCO is intentional, which makes it smart marketing) for her work in oil palm research. This event has occasioned a Jan. 21, 2015 news item on,

The use of oils and fats has been successfully diversified, resulting in an innovation formulated through nanotechnology that is beneficial to pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

A Faculty of Science, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) lecturer, Professor Dr Mahiran Basri, not only succeeded in producing new useful substances made of oils and fats for the industry, but also managed to produce them through environmental-friendly ways.

A Jan. 22, 2015 UPM news release (Malaysia is on the other side of the date line) by Azaman Zakaria, which originated the news item, describes her work and award in more detail,

“This organic synthesis uses enzymes and it is produced through nanotechnology. Our focus is to process new substances derived from oils and fats,” she said in an interview at her office.

In the field of cosmetics, for instance, she said there are antioxidants and anti-aging substances, through the use of nanotechnology, those substances can easily absorb through the skin.

This way, they would be more effective, she added.

“What is also important is that the materials are clean and safe,” said the winner of the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) for Science and Technology 2014 award, which was held in Rabat, Morocco, in December.

The recognition was based on her active research and excellent performance in the field of chemistry including her far-reaching oil palm research that has contributed to the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

The award was presented by the ISESCO Director General, Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri as Prof Mahiran took home a certificate, a medal and a cash prize of USD$5,000.

The biennial award has been organised by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) since 1979 to foster and strengthen collaboration in the fields of science, education and culture among the OIC members.

According to Mahiran, efforts have been formulated to commercialise the innovation although it may take time.

“At this stage, we have obtained a pre-commercial project from Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC),” she said.

Professor Mahiran said in pharmaceuticals, an innovation has successfully produced a drugs delivery method to penetrate the ‘blood brain barrier’, especially for diseases that are associated with the brain, such as Alzheimer, Parkinson, epilepsy and meningitis.

“Drugs are normally hard to reach beyond the ‘blood brain barrier’. Thus we created drugs through nanotechnology, and that way we hope they are more effective,” she said.

She added, the innovation has been tested on animals and there were visible positive effects.

Meanwhile, in the agro-chemcial field, Professor Mahiran said, the formulation was made in a nano form to kill weeds and also perform as a cleaning agent to the environment, thus improve the development of the agricultural industry.

“The ingredients in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and agro-chemical formulations are made through nanotechnology to produce the best for their efficacy, bio-availability in the products and ensure the safety of the consumers” she affirmed.

Professor Dr Mahiran has led 20 research projects in more than 3 decades since 1982, with provisions of grants worth more than RM7 million.

Her series of scientific research have also garnered her numerous awards including the prestigious Archer Daniels Midlands Award from the American Oil Chemists’ Society and the Ram Rais Biotechnology Award at the International Invention and Innovation Exhibition (ITEX) 2004 – UPM.

For anyone curious about ISESCO you can find the website here (with your pick of three languages). There’s also this description in its Wikipedia entry,

Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) was established by the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in May 1979. ISESCO is one of the largest international Islamic organizations and specializes in the fields of education, science, and culture. Its headquarters are in Rabat, Morocco.

By the way, UNESCO (United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture) was founded in 1945.

Nanocomplexes that treat your dark eyes and puffy circles

It’s been a few years (July 15, 2010 posting) since I’ve seen a cosmetics company touting its nanotechnology-enabled products. The practice seemed to have died out in Canada and the US (at least) due to concerns that people might object to nano-enabled skincare products. For example, my Feb. 9, 2012 posting describes how an anti-nano sunscreen campaign by the Friends of the Earth resulted in some unexpected behaviour in Australia.

BIONOVA seems to be defying current practice as a Nov. 4, 2014 news item on Azonano describes their nano-enabled skin care treatment,

Winter can be cruel for the skin, especially for the sensitive eye area. Drastic temperature swings add additional pressure on the skin in order to keep homeostasis of the organism. The negative impact of winter makes eyes look older. The carried out study in New York, found that 82% of women have dark circles and puffy eyes in winter as opposed to 38% in summer.

Science in Action

In the past, there was no physiological approach for treating puffy eyes and dark circles. It has changed with BIONOVA’s arrival. The knowledge of human physiology and biochemistry helped BIONOVA’s scientists to find a solution to increase adaptation mechanisms of skin to the extreme weather condition and thereafter, help prevent and treat Puffy Eyes & Dark Circles. The proprietary technologies allowed to contrive special NANO-COMPLEXES™ that contain specific, natural to the body ingredients that help increase Self-Healing processes in the sensitive Eye Area. This novel treatment approach brings the results never possible before.

The company seems to have appropriated a term ‘nanocomplexes’ and trademarked as NANO-COMPLEXES. I was unable to find an explanation or description of the trademarked term on either the company’s US website or its UK website.

The company’s founder and expert, Dr. Michael Danielov, offers a bit more information (not on NANO-COMPLEXES) on this PR Newswire webpage profile (; while the URL suggests this is a Spanish language page, the material is in English). I’ve excerpted the sections about publications and professional qualifications,

 White paper/research:

The fundamental science behind BIONOVA’s technological platform has started three decades ago in Georgia in the Institute of Experimental Morphology Academy of Science (former Soviet Union), when Michael Danielov began his research in study of pathogenetical mechanisms and thanatogeneses (mechanisms of death) of post-aggressive reactions of the

Living Organisms.

Dr. Danielov was the first to reveal that the best approach to future medicine would be to start using substances that naturally exist in the body, instead of creating and administrating new molecules. With his team of scientists he discovered methods of ‘copying’ nature, actually learning how to ‘put together’ multiple biological informational substances in physiological concentration (nano-and pico quantities) that living system needs to repair malfunctioning lines of information communication and to preserve their biological stability. The phenomenal volume of data and its careful analysis brought Dr. Danielov to a new scientific concept: ‘The Concept of Biological Information Transfer in Living Organisms’ that literally changed the understanding of human adaptation mechanisms.

Books/articles published:

Dr. Danielov is the author of more than 40 openly published scientific articles and one book in his field of research:‘“The Pathogenetical mechanisms of post aggressive reactions development in organism”.

He is the author of published series of articles related to his proprietary Scientific Concept of “Biological Information Transfer” and to Life Science Nanotechnology in ‘Critical Care & Catastrophe Medicine’ magazine.


Through 1981 to 1989 Dr. Danielov in cooperation with some of the world’s best mathematicians, equipment, and process designers, including Dr. K. Kalantarov, Dr. A. Kaufman, and Dr. Beliakov developed four generations of automatic scintillation counters for beta and gamma radiation. For this unique developments in 1984 Dr. Danielov and the team of co-developers were nominated for the ‘State Prize’ – the highest USSR award in science and technology.

Dr. Danielov is the elected professor of Georgian Critical Care Medicine University.

Educational background:

Ph.D. in Pathophysiology, 1985
MD Tbilisi State Medical Institute, Faculty of General Medicine, 1976

It took a little digging to find contact information for the company so I’m not sure if this is current but here it is,

43-15 11th Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
Telephone: (718) 433 – 4180
Fax: (718) 433 – 4183

Flat 110 Penshurst
Queens Crescent
tel: +44-790-942-2851


To sum this up, it’s impossible to tell how this product is nanotechnology-enabled and the term ‘nano-complexes’ seems to be used primarily in the field of ‘nanomedicine’.

Nano workshop with the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists and ‘in-cosmetics’ on March 1, 2014

The International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC) is presenting a March 31, 2014 nanotechnology workshop prior to the ‘in-cosmetics exhibition’ due to be held April 1-2, 2014 in Hamburg in partnership with the in-cosmetics organizers.  From a Feb. 17, 2014 IFSCC news release,

The IFSCC has organised a Recent Perspectives in Nanotechnology workshop in association with in-cosmetics which will be held immediately before the show (1-3 April) on 31 March 2014 in Hamburg.

Moderated by IFSCC Vice President and President of the French Society Claudie Willemin, the workshop will provide an update on nanotechnology in Cosmetics. It will focus on the requirements of the EU regulation 1223/2009/WE, enacted by the European Commission to provide tools and methodologies to measure the particle size to fulfil the nanomaterial definition, the safety studies and evaluation methods.

Topics and speakers include:

Nanotechnology in Cosmetics – Current status in EU and Other Countries

Dr Florian Schellauf, Technical Regulatory Affairs – Cosmetics Europe

Characterisation Methods for Nanomaterials for Regulatory Purposes

Dr Hubert Rauscher, European Commission – Joint Research Centre – Nanobiosciences Unit

Nanomaterials’ Safety:  A Summary of the Latest Studies

Prof. Jürgen Lademann, Center of Experimental and Applied Cutaneous Physiology, Department of Dermatology, University of Medecin – La Charité – Berlin

Nanomaterial’s Evaluation Tests

Dr Robert Landsiedel, Product Safety – Experimental Toxicology and Ecology – BASF

Click here for full programme details and to register.

The focus is primarily on the European Union’s efforts according to the workshop programme webpage,

This IFSCC Workshop will provide an update on nanotechnology in Cosmetics. It will focus on the requirements of the EU regulation 1223/2009/WE, enacted by the European Commission to provide tools and methodologies to measure the particle size to fulfil the nanomaterial definition, the safety studies and evaluation methods.

Organised by the IFSCC, a federation dedicated to international cooperation in cosmetic science and technology, this workshop demonstrates its aims.

Moderator: Claudie Willemin

  • 14:00-14:30: Welcome and Introduction
    IFSCC – What does this Acronym mean?
    > Claudie Willemin, Vice President of  the International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists and President of La Société Française de Cosmétologie – SFC
  • 14:30-15:15: Nanotechnology in Cosmetics – Current status in EU and Other Countries
    > Dr. Florian Schellauf, Technical Regulatory Affairs- Cosmetics EuropeThe legislator introduced two requirements into the EU Regulation 1223/2009 related to nanomaterials in cosmetic products.The first requirement is the obligation to inform the consumer when nanomaterials are used in cosmetic products (“nano labelling”). The second requirement requires notification to the European Commission of cosmetic products containing certain nanomaterials. These requirements are based on the definition of a nanomaterial provided in the Regulation.

    The requirements come into application from 2013 and discussions have moved from legislation to practical implementation.

    This presentation will provide an overview over the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics, issues related to the implementation of the legal requirements and the interpretation of the cosmetic nanodefinition in relation to the Commission Recommendation of 18 October 2011.

    Also in the international arena, there have been harmonization attempts specifically for the cosmetic sector through the ICCR process (International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation). ICCR defined a set of criteria for determining whether or not a material should be considered as a nanomaterial for regulatory purposes. The presentation will also provide an insight into discussions occurring around nanomaterials in cosmetics in selected countries outside of the EU.

  • 15:15-15:50: Characterisation Methods for Nanomaterials for Regulatory Purposes
    > Dr. Hubert Rauscher, European Commission -Joint Research Centre – Nanobiosciences UnitNanomaterials are addressed in the European Regulation on Cosmetic Products (EC)1223/2009 as well as in several other sectors of national and international legislation and in various guidelines. This requires clear terminology, such as a definition of the term “nanomaterial” and implementation provisions. Such a definition for regulatory purposes and its individual elements needs to be legally clear and unambiguous, and enforceable through agreed measurement techniques and procedures. The presentation highlights the technical and scientific requirements for the characterisation of nanomaterials that need to be met for this purpose and reviews currently available techniques. The contribution also offers considerations on the way forward towards the development of new measurement techniques, the combination of experimental methods and the need for validation studies for the characterisation of nanomaterials for regulatory purposes.
  • 15:50-16:15: Coffee Break
  • 16:15-16:50: Nanomaterials’ Safety:  A Summary of the Latest Studies
    > Prof. Jürgen Lademann, Center of Experimental and Applied Cutaneous Physiology, Department of Dermatology, University of Medecin – La Charité – BerlinFor more than 20 years both academic institutions and industrial enterprises have been researching into the development of strategies for drug delivery through the human skin by means of nanoparticles. However, a commercial product based on that concept is still lacking as, obviously, nanoparticles of ≥30 nm do not penetrate the human skin barrier. Whether this applies also to smaller particles is currently a topic of intense research.First indications that nanoparticles might not penetrate the skin barrier resulted from investigations of sunscreens that contained TiO2 particles of approximately 100 nm in diameter. At the end of a 14 day test period, volunteers who had applied the sunscreen three times each day were measured for TiO2 penetration using the tape stripping method. In addition, biopsies were taken and histological sections were analyzed. The results clearly showed that the TiO2 nanoparticles were located upon the skin surface and in some of the hair follicles. The penetration profile also revealed low TiO2 concentrations near the boundary to the living epidermis.  However, in follow-up investigations these TiO2 concentrations turned out to be located in the hair follicles.

    Interestingly, only some of the hair follicles contained TiO2 particles. In a subsequent study it could be shown that the nanoparticles penetrated into the hair follicles only if the latter display sebum production or hair growth. This means that hair follicles are usually closed by a cover that must be opened from inside out by mass flow to permit the topically applied nanoparticles penetrating into the hair follicles.  Particles of 500-800 nm in diameter were found to penetrate into the hair follicles most efficiently; either in vivo or – in the case of porcine ear model skin – if the hairs are moved by a massage. Investigating the hair surface structure, it was found that the thickness of the cuticula on the hair amounts to 600-800 nm. Due to resonance effects and if the hairs are moving, nanoparticles within this diameter range obviously penetrate into the hair follicles where they can be stored for a period exceeding 10 days. Thereafter, they escape with the sebum onto the skin surface again. A penetration of particles through the intact skin barrier could not be detected.

    The problem of particulate structures, particularly of those exceeding 100 nm, is that they do not penetrate the intact skin barrier on the intercellular pathway. They remain on the skin surface and are removed by washing, textile contact and desquamation, so that scarcely any nanoparticles are detectable after 24 h. However, once the particles have been transported into the hair follicles part of them are stored there for more than 10 days and are then re-transferred to the skin surface with the sebum. In various papers nanoparticles were reported to pass the skin barrier. This is always correct if the skin barrier is disturbed. Such disturbance could have been caused by disease or mechanical manipulation, e.g., taking of biopsies, tape stripping or cyanoacrylate stripping. In such cases, nanoparticles could also be detected in the living skin. So far, no evidence has been provided to suggest that nanoparticles are capable of penetrating the intact skin. Therefore, a collaborative project was recently launched by the German Research Association (DFG) in which the excellent penetration properties of particles >100 mm shall be used to transport drugs, which would normally not penetrate into the hair follicles, efficiently to the target structures in the hair follicles where they can be released by an external trigger system.

  • 16:50-17:30: Nanomaterial’s Evaluation Tests
    > Dr. Robert Landsiedel, Product Safety – Experimental Toxicology and Ecology – BASFWarranting the safety of nanotechnological products is seen as a crucial element in ensuring that the benefits of the new technology can be fully exploited. One prominent trait of NM is the fact that, during the life-time of a given NM, humans can be exposed to different forms of the material, e.g. due to agglomeration or aggregation, corona formation or interaction with surrounding organic material, or dissolution. In order to remove the need to test each form of nanomaterial in all its uses with a pre-defined, fixed list of methods, a concern-driven approach is proposed. Such approaches should start out by determining concerns, i.e. specific information needs for a given NM based on realistic exposure scenarios. Recognized concerns can be addressed in a set of tiers using standardized protocols for NM preparation and testing. Tier 1 includes determining physico-chemical properties, non-testing (e.g. structure activity relationships) and evaluating existing data. In tier 2, a limited set of in vitro and in vivo tests are performed that can either indicate that the risk of the specific concern is sufficiently known or indicate the need for further testing, including details for such testing. By effectively exploiting all available information, IATA allow accelerating the risk assessment process and reducing testing costs and animal use (in line with the 3Rs principle implemented in EU Directive 2010/63/EU). Combining material properties, exposure, biokinetics and hazard data, information gained with IATA can be used to recognize groups of NM based upon similar modes-of-action. Grouping of substances in return should form an integral part of the IATA themselves.
  • 17:30-18:00: Q&A and Conclusion

You can go here to register for this workshop. If you are attending the exhibition only, you can register for free until March 31, 2014 but if you want to attend the nano workshop and others, an Early Bird rate starting at €280 +VAT is available until Feb. 28, 2014.

For anyone who doesn’t fully grasp what the ‘in-cosmetics’ exhibition is all about, here’s a video,