Scientists from the US firm Olivo Labs and MIT have developed a new material made of adhesive polymer capable of restoring the aesthetic and functional properties of healthy skin. In human trials it has been shown to reduce the eye bags and improves skin hydration.
US – A second skin made of transparent polymer that adheres to the dermis to improve the appearance of wrinkles or dryness created by a team from the start-up Olivo Labs, in collaboration with scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The work was published yesterday in the journal Nature Materials.
According to its creators, after improvements this ‘second skin’ could also be used to treat skin diseases such as eczema and other types of dermatitis.
The material, a silicone-based polymer called XPL, which can be applied to the skin as a thin, imperceptible layer mimics the mechanical and elastic properties of healthy, youthful skin. In tests with humans, researchers have found that the material is able to reduce the bags that form under the lower eyelids and also improve skin hydration.
This transparent skin adhesive could also be adapted to provide a long-lasting UV protection, according to the study.
“The new material can function as a barrier, providing an aesthetic improvement, and can also be used to deliver drugs locally in the area being treated,” says Daniel Anderson, a researcher at MIT and one of the authors.
As the skin ages, it becomes less firm and less elastic, problems that may be aggravated by exposure to the sun. This impairs the ability of the dermis to protect against extreme temperatures, toxins, microorganisms and radiation.
About a decade ago, the research team, led by Robert Langer, MIT professor and founder of Olivo Labs set out to develop a protective layer that could restore the properties of healthy skin, both for medical applications as cosmetic.
“We started thinking about how we could control the properties of the skin by coating polymer that will provide beneficial effects,” Langer said. “We also wanted to be invisible and comfortable”.
The researchers created a library of more than 100 possible polymers, all containing a chemical structure known as siloxane, a chain of alternating silicon atoms and oxygen. These polymers can be assembled in a network arrangement known as a layer of crosslinked polymer (XPL). The researchers tested the material in search of one that best imitate the appearance, strength and elasticity of healthy skin.
According Langer, “the material obtained is very similar to the elastic properties of the skin”. In laboratory tests, “easily returned to its original state after being stretched more than 250%” (natural skin can be stretched approximately 180%). In addition, the elasticity of XPL was much better than the two other types of advanced wound dressings used in the present – acts silicone gel and polyurethane-sheets.
The XPL is supplied in two steps. First, polysiloxane components are applied to the skin, followed by a platinum catalyst that induces the polymer to form a strong crosslinked film which remains on the skin for up to 24 hours. Both layers are applied in the form of creams or ointments, and once spread on the skin, the XPL becomes invisible.
The team conducted several human studies to test the safety and efficacy of the material. In one study, XPL is applied to the area under the eyes, which often pouches form. After applying the material, these clusters were reduced significantly. The effect lasted 24 hours.
In another experiment, the XPL was applied to the forearm skin in order to test its elasticity. To do this, the skin was distended with a suction cup and returned to its original position faster than untreated skin with XPL.
The researchers also tested the ability of the material to prevent moisture loss from the skin. Two hours after application, the skin to which had been applied XPL suffered much less loss of water treated with a commercial moisturizer high end or petroleum jelly. None of the study participants suffered irritation any use of XPL, the authors said.