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Patents licensed from NASA, 3D cellular technology, microgravity, biomimetic suspension. Perhaps all this space-age babble put me in mind of Matt Damon in The Martian and his memorable quote, “I’m going to have to science the sh- out of this.” In other words, my skept-ometer went into the red zone when I was sent an email about a new serum called Rejuvel 3D ($149 in the shop).

The first thing I did was check on the patents (I didn’t know it was even possible to license a patent from NASA). They are legit and, without blinding you with science, they referred to things like “cells in a three dimensional co-culture process” and three dimensional cell growth facilitated by an electromagnetic field. Still, I wasn’t much wiser and had no idea what a 3D cell might be and how it could end up in my next anti-aging serum.

So the nice people at Rejuvel arranged for me to speak to their head scientist. And what I learned was extremely intriguing and could even be a new frontier in anti-aging skincare.

It started with NASA scientists wanting to get things to grow faster in space. Imagine cells in a petri dish clustered in two dimensions and therefore with limited communication between them. Even worse, cells in a dish start sticking to the plastic and form “unnatural cell attachments.” On the other hand, cultures of 3D cells are able to communicate more as result of forming appropriate cell-to-cell attachments.

These cells are in a kind of rotating vessel that NASA originally invented in order to figure out the effects of microgravity (think astronauts floating around weightlessly). When cells were cultivated in this vessel, they were found to be three dimensional, much like real ones in plants or humans. There are a couple of elements to the cylinder that are helpful for cell culture. One is the reduction of friction, which can stress cells out. The other is a magnetic pulse that further stimulates the cells.

Now this is all well and good, but how does it all relate to the Rejuvel 3D serum? A quick perusal of the ingredients list shows there’s some Matrixyl 3000 (a peptide combo that increases collagen but doesn’t have much to do with NASA) and green tea.

It turns out that the green tea is actually plant stem cells taken from the callus cells (the cells that are triggered when a plant is wounded) and subjected to culture within the rotating cylinder. So, it boils down (weak pun intended) to tea from 3D stem cells. The theory being that being more akin to actual cells, they will communicate better with ours and go about getting useful things done, like making fibroblast.

The proof, of course, is in the potion and I’ll be testing my bottle of Rejuvel 3D serum in the weeks to come.