My first reaction when I tried out a new anti-aging serum called Luminessce ($149) by CyGenX was to laugh. There’s also a version for hair growth called Regenerxx that costs $299 and they boast something called Penetration Plus, a “technology” that helps the active ingredients to penetrate the skin. It turns out that this technology is elbow grease - CyGenX instructs you to massage in the serum for a full five minutes.

I dutifully set myself the task of five minutes of rubbing whilst listening to the morning news on NPR. It took about 20 seconds for me to decide that I couldn’t justify spending more time with a serum than it takes to get an up date on the Republican primaries in New Hampshire. I’m not the only one – another TIA reviewer contacted the company and found that CyGenX is now taking a more pragmatic response that allows us to stop rubbing when the serum appears to be absorbed: about 30 seconds in my case. Luminessce is very lightweight (the Regenerxx for hair has a slightly thicker consistency).

So having got the modus operandi out of the way, I was very intrigued by the ingredients, which are more or less the same for the hair and skin products. CyGenX uses a blend of three different types of human conditioned media (similar – although I have no doubt there are differences in substance – to the active formula in ReLuma). Human conditioned media contains proteins that have been secreted by human cells in a laboratory and these proteins, which can signal cells to do things, are what makes it into our serums.

Now, the CyGenX specifically mentions “Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Conditioned Media” and that waved a red flag for me as I recall Truth In Aging community member, Oksana, being concerned about the long-term use of pluripotent stem cells. She raised this in comments on my review of ReLuma’s eye cream and she cited a wound treatment gel called Regranex that is prescribed for diabetic ulcers (it was found that “an increased rate of mortality secondary to malignancy was observed in patients treated with 3 or more tubes”.  Regranex is the trade name for becaplermin, which is recombinant human platelet-derived growth factor-BB.

Although it seemed to me to be a big leap from Regranex to my cosmetic serums, my bottle of Luminessce listed pluripotent stem cell conditioned media and with Oksana sitting in my shoulder, so to speak, it seemed prudent to ask CyGenX’s Dr Leatherman to respond to potential concerns.

He replied that firstly, there are no stem cells in the CyGenX products, including no pluripotent stem cells. The actives are growth factors and other signaling and communicating molecules obtained from conditioned media. Human Fibroblast conditioned media is derived from mesenchymal stem cells of a pluripotent potency and, according to Dr Leatherman, they are completely safe and used in products such as ReLuma and AQ as well as his own.

He also went on to say that in any case the issue of pluripotent stem cells causing cancer unfounded as for 80 years now one of the most common and most effective treatments for cancer is bone marrow therapy. This is what he wrote in his email back to me “Bone marrow therapy is the extraction of stem cells from the bone marrow of a donor and thereafter injecting those stem cells into the cancer patient. These BDSCs are pluripotent. They are mesenchymal by classification and pluripotent in that they are capable of transitioning into multiple types of cell differentiations, i.e. muscle, cartilage, fat, nerve, etc. If it were true that naturally extracted pluripotent stem cells from humans caused cancer this bone marrow transplantation would have been exposed and discarded decades ago. In reality, just the opposite is true. Bone marrow transplantation has a historic record of being one of the most effective treatments in the fight against cancer.”

At this point, I feel happy to keep testing this product. My experience with conditioned media in ReLuma suggests that this ingredient can take a while to kick in. I started testing Luminessce and the hair product Regenerxx just over a week ago and I’ll report back in a month or so.

Ingredients: CyGenX® Tri-Mix Blend (Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media, Human Adipose Derived Stem Cell Conditioned Media and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Conditioned Media), Water, Glycerin, Polysorbate-20, Cellulose Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium PCA, DL-Panthenol , Allantoin.