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Age-Old Problems

September 27, 2007
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Jerusalem

A new method for fighting skin wrinkles has been developed by the Hebrew University faculty of agriculture, food and environmental-quality sciences.

In her doctoral research at the university, Dr. Orit Bossi succeeded in isolating a plant-based antioxidant that delays the aging process by countering the breakdown of collagen fibers in the skin.

Bossi conducted her research under the supervision of Zecharia Madar, the Karl Bach Professor of Agricultural Biochemistry at the Hebrew University, and Professor Shlomo Grossman of Bar-Ilan University.

Antioxidants operate against free radicals that cause a breakdown of many tissues in the body, including the skin. When found in small quantities in the body, free radicals are not harmful and are even involved in various physical processes. When there is an excess of free radicals, however, as occurs during normal aging or as a result of excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, the result, among other things, is a breakdown of the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin.

When this happens, there is also a loss of skin elasticity and the formation of wrinkles.

"A problem with many of the commercial antioxidants found today in the market that are said to retard the aging process is that they oxidize quickly, and therefore, their efficiency declines with time," said Bossi.

"Vitamin C, for example, oxidizes rapidly and is sensitive to high temperatures. This is also true of the antioxidant EGCG, which is found in green tea and vitamin E. As opposed to these, the antioxidant which I used in my research is able to withstand high temperatures, is soluble in water and does not oxidize easily, and thus remains effective over time."

Not Just Skin Deep

Bossi is looking toward a new generation of cosmetic products that will not only combat wrinkles but be more effective against deeper levels of skin wrinkles than current products. Bossi did not reveal the plant source she used to derive the antioxidant, since the research is in the process of being patented.

Bossi conducted experiments on mice skin tissue, which, she says, resembles that of humans. She tested her procedure on two skin-cell groups -- those that had been exposed to the sun's rays and received her antioxidant, and those that also had been exposed to sun but did not receive the antioxidant.

The untreated cells showed a rise in free radicals causing wrinkles, while those cells that had been treated showed no significant increase in the level of free radicals.

This column was prepared in cooperation with Hebrew University.

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