Earlier this year, there was finally a glimmer of hope for those of us who don't want costly and short-lived fillers or, perish the thought, Botox, which can migrate to the brain as well as making you so devoid of expression to look brain dead. Salvation for those with sagging jowls, hollow cheeks and disappearing lips could be arriving in the form of RHAMM.

This stands for Receptor for Hyaluronan Mediated Motility. Mina Bissell, a cell biologist with Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division and a leading authority on breast cancer, and Eva Turley, an oncology professor at the University of Western Ontario, have been studying the role that RHAMM plays in regulating the signaling of adipocytes (fat cells) during the repairing of tissue wounds from injuries such as skin cuts, heart attacks and stroke. Bissell and Turley, working with mice, discovered that blocking the expression of the RHAMM protein - either by deleting its gene, or through the introduction of a blocking reagent - can be used to selectively induce the generation of fat cells to replace those lost in the aging process. At the same time blocking RHAMM expression also reduces deposits of unhealthy visceral fat.

They believe that this will be non-surgical approach for normalizing skin appearance after reconstructive surgery, for wrinkle reduction, and for face lifts and figure enhancement. And they say the effects will be long-lasting - although this hasn't been specified.

There are compounds on the market now that promote the production of adipocyte cells and result in increased subcutaneous fat. However, they also increase the production of visceral fat. The mouse studies led by Bissell and Turley have shown that blocking RHAMM expression significantly increases subcutaneous fat while decreasing visceral fat. This suggests that blocking RHAMM should also have a beneficial effect on patients with obesity-related diseases, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Another unique advantage of RHAMM is that its expression in normal adult human tissues is restricted.

Sounds brilliant, right? But before you get too excited, keep in mind RHAMM for wrinkles is said to be about three to six years away.