The only other time I’ve come across an epidermal growth factor (EGF) coming from Icelandic barley was in Dr Roland Moy’s DNA EGF Renewal range. Now here it was again in a serum that actually hails from Iceland. Coincidence? Actually it turns out not to be a coincidence at all, but I’ll come back to that. First a bit of context about Bioeffect an anti-aging serum that has just launched in the US after converting almost every adult woman in Iceland to a “passionate” fan and even winning over the notoriously cynical British press.

Coming from that fine tradition myself (although I prefer to call it skepticism), I am still wondering what to make of Bioeffect. Is it really a breakthrough, or an expensive hoax at $220 for a Liliputian 0.5 oz ? And what’s the connection with America’s own DNA EGF Renewal?

Well. I asked that last question of the founder of Bioeffect, Dr Björn Õrvar, whom I met earlier this week. It turns out that Dr Õrvar supplied the key ingredient, a stem cell from barley, to DNA EGF and then decided he could do a better job and launched his own serum, the diminutive Bioeffect. It seems that the barley ingredient is very sensitive and that there are things in the DNA EGF formulas that Dr Õrvar doesn’t really like. I asked him what might render the barley inactive and he rattled off a list that included oils, alcohols and even vitamins.  The formula needs to be simple for the active to remain active

And it is true that Bioeffect has pared things back to less than 10 ingredients. One of them, I was almost shocked to see, is alcohol, but the label is at pains to point out that it is at less 0.9%. The EGF is at much less than 1%, according to Dr Õrvar, but proportionate to what natural EGF would be in your own body.

There isn’t much information about the barley EGF. It is a peptide – an oligopetide, or protein – that is derived from barley. Specifically sh-Oligopeptide-1, a recombinant human peptide is produced by fermentation in e.coli. Dr Õrvar is very proud of his production process, which doesn’t use nasty bacteria and takes place in a state of art greenhouse using volcanic soil (well it is Iceland, so you’d expect nothing less).

Despite the barley thing, Bioeffect reminds me more of E’shee’s Cellular Repair Serum ($179 in the TIA shop)  than DNA EGF Renewal. Like E’shee it shares a very simple formula, and one key active (in E’shee’s case it is FGF-1, a recombinant human growth factor). And they are both small and expensive. I know that E’shee’s serum works. Now I’ll have to see about Bioeffect. I’ll report back in a month or so (read my Bioeffect review here).

Bioeffect Serum is now available in the TIA shop at $110+.

Ingredients: Glycerine, acqua, sodium hyaluronate, tromethamine, alcohol (less than 0.9%), calcium chloride, sodium chloride, hordeum vulgare seed extract, EGF (transgenic barley sh-oligopeptide-1)