There are two notable things about E'shee's serum, which I reviewed and recommended a few weeks ago and which I am still using in my daily regimen. The first is that it is one of my most expensive finds ($178 for 10 ml or 0.34 fl oz.) and the second is that it seems to be having a very notable effect on deep wrinkles and broken veins. Both are probably due to the active ingredient being FGF1, a human growth factor. But I was also struck by a comment from Susan saying: "It seems a shame that the HGF ingredient is last on the list. With such a small amount used and no other extraordinary ingredients, the price hardly seems justified." I needed to know more about FGF1.

Fibroblast growth factors, or FGFs, are a family of growth factors involved in angiogenesis, cell growth, tissue growth (source) and wound healing. There are 22 of them in all and for some reason FGF1 is known as "acidic fibroblast growth factor". FGFs are multifunctional proteins with a wide variety of effects; they are most commonly mitogens, meaning that they encourage cell division. They also seem to be incredibly complex and are involved in other activities such as cell regulation.

Apparently, FGF1 activates the biological signals of FGF2 and FGF7 (also known as KGF). This means that FGF1 signals FGF2 to get on with fibroblast growth and produce collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin, while telling FGF7 to get busy with hair follicles and grow hair. FGF7 is also responsible for keratinocyte resulting in rejuvenated skin.

FGF1s also support angiogenesis, which is the growth of new blood vessels from existing ones. Is this why my broken veins seem to be diminishing? This angiogenesis business also means that FGF1 encourages the formulation of “granulation tissue”, which fills up a wound space early in the wound healing process. Is this why I think my crows feet are filling in? FGF1 enhances the barrier function and increases the proliferation of keratinocytes (source).

Although FGF1s are widely regarded to have loads of phamaceutical potential, there are some issues. It seems that they have low thermal stability and high sensitivity to proteases (things that break down proteins). I am pleased say that the same Polish researchers that rained on my parade with that observation (source) in 2008 also speculated that  “advanced design techniques” would sort that out. At $178 for a tiny bottle, let’s hope E’shee has.

Actually, E’shee gets its FGF1 from a Dr Ing Ming Chiu of Ohio State University.  Dr Chiu is said to have been the first to clone the FGF1 gene and it seems he also holds lengthy and complex patents on using FGF1 for skin care. Well, who can condemn him for a little entrepreneurial opportunism.

FGF1 is much researched and its mechanisms are well understood, but I haven’t found independent studies on its roll in cosmetic or antaging skin care. Nor, to Susan’s point, do I know what the optimal concentration is supposed to be. All I can offer you conclude are my own observations using E’shee and that the business of an FGF1 seems to be all about fibroblast growth, which is certainly what I could do with.