Could this stem cell cure for wrinkles end the endless hunt for the perfect skin cream
British firm is trialling new method by injecting patient's own stem cells to restore skin's youthful elasticity

By
Tamara Cohen

PUBLISHED:

15:40 GMT, 9 September 2012

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UPDATED:

07:12 GMT, 10 September 2012

Scientists will begin clinical trials in 12 months, using stem cells harvested from a blood sample from the patients

Scientists will begin clinical trials in 12 months, using stem cells harvested from a blood sample from the patients

Scientists are working on a new weapon in the war against wrinkles.

There are not many things women have not tried in the quest for a youthful complexion – from lotions and potions to Botox and cosmetic surgery.

But a British firm is trialling a new method which involves injecting the patient’s own stem cells to restore skin’s youthful elasticity.

Researchers believe they will spur the growth of new skin cells, called fibroblasts, which make the elastic ingredient collagen which is produced in large quantities when we are young, but declines as we age.

The company Pharmacells, based in Glasgow, plan to begin clinical trials in 12 months, using stem cells harvested from a blood sample from the patients.

They believe the procedure could be commercially available in just three years, potentially revolutionising the market for anti-ageing treatments.

By using the body’s own cells, it is billed as a more ‘natural’ approach to reducing the signs of ageing than Botox, a chemical which freezes the facial muscles to smooth wrinkles.

They have licenced the technology to harvest a new type of stem cell – called a blastomere-like stem cell (CORR) – which is found circulating in the blood.

Like other types of stem cells, it is unspecialised and can develop into many other types of cell in the human body such as a liver, brain or skin cell.

The advantage of this particular one it is available in very large doses from one blood sample.

They hope to inject 500millon of the cells in the skin in one jab.

Athol Haas, the company’s chief executive said: ‘The skin has a natural elastic property which comes from cells known as fibroblasts.

‘The ability of the body to produce this elastic material slows down with age because the number of these fibroblasts decreases.

‘By introducing large numbers of stem cells into the right place, we are increasing the ability of the body to produce this natural material. It will be long lasting, we think at least five years if not longer.’

Pharmacells will be carrying out the first trial on patients with a clinic in Hong Kong to see if the treatment is safe to use.

There are ‘stem cell facelifts’ already on the market which involve taking a fat sample from a patient – under local anaesthetic and injecting it into the face for around 7,500.

But Mr Haas said: ‘The stem cells in fat are more mature so the quality is not so good, and the numbers of them in it are much smaller, around five or 10 million.

‘We are talking about 500 million, very high quality, pure stem cells and there is definitely a link between dose and efficacy. The more you have, the better it should be.’

These stem cells, discovered by researchers in the USA around 10 years ago, are deployed by the body when there is a trauma in an organ.

Because they can turn into up to 50 types of other cells, Pharmacells is investigating their uses against heart attacks, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

By turning them into skin cells, they could also be used against acne scars and stretch marks, he said.

Rajiv Grover, a plastic surgeon and president elect of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon, said it could be five to 10 years before stem cell treatments for wrinkles were widely available.

He said: ‘It is an exciting prospect as the science of stem cells will influence plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine significantly in the future.