The other day I received an email from Bimene Cosmetics, maker of a potion called Bim.e.ne (in reality this looks like something invented by a chemical engineer in Finland as the letters are crowned by all sorts of strange accents and the middle 'e' is back to front - all of which is beyond my key board). Bimene claims to use nanotechnology to deliver collagen to the dermal layer.
This caught my attention for a couple of reasons: if it is true then they could be onto something because collagen is typically too large to be applied topically; secondly, nanotechnology and its application in cosmetics, has been getting something of a bad rap. Bimene Cosmetics has partnered with another company called Telomolecular and it claims to have found a way to do this that works and is safe. It seemed worth spending some time talking to the guys at Bimene and Telomolecular to find out more.
Telomolecular is a pharma company focusing on regenerative medicine (although it hasn't launched any medical products yet; its only product is the Bimene cream, which sells for $149). It has licensed, from the University of Nebraska, a new formulation of PLGA. PLGA is worth a quick diversion because, although its been around for years, it is interesting.
PLGA's full name is poly(lactic-co
-glycolic acid). It is a useful device for delivering drugs because it is biodegradable; in the body it undergoes hydrolisis to convert to lactic and glycolic acid. Typically, PLGA can only handle small molecules, but this new formulation that Telomolecular has got hold of can handle large molecules (like collagen) and it is this delivery system that is at the heart of Bimene.
So far so good, but there is an increasing amount of concern that nanoparticles in cosmetics are unsafe because (due to the fact that they are so tiny) they can wander off (perhaps into the bloodstream) and cause havoc. Telomelecular claims that this danger is averted if the molecule is larger than 80nm. Its molecule is 250nm and so can't get into the body's vascular system.
OK, so assuming they've got the delivery and nano part of it sussed, what about the collagen. It turns out that Bimene's collagen is a recombinant (genetically engineered) form of collagen lll from yeast. Most collagen used is from marine or bovine sources, but this is getting harder to sustain (declining fish stocks, fears about Mad Cow Disease). I thought collagen from yeast sounded odd, but it is a fairly common technique and the yeast (as far as I can work out) provides a host cell for the genetically engineered collagen.
I should also mention that Bimene also has hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and matrixyl 3000. A pot is on its way to me.