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New artificial skin to smooth out wrinkles

Wed 11 May 2016, 13:08:13
Scientists, including those of Indian-origin, have developed a new material that can temporarily tighten skin, smooth wrinkles, and may be used to deliver drugs to treat skin conditions such as eczema.
The material, a silicone-based polymer that may be applied on the skin as a thin, imperceptible coating, mimics the mechanical and elastic properties of healthy, youthful skin.
In tests with human subjects, the researchers found that the material was able to reshape "eye bags" under the lower eyelids and also enhance skin hydration.
This type of "second skin" could also be adapted to provide long-lasting ultraviolet protection, researchers said. "It's an invisible layer that can provide a barrier, provide cosmetic improvement, and potentially deliver a drug locally to the area that's being treated," said Daniel Anderson, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
As skin ages, it becomes less firm and less elastic - problems that can be exacerbated by sun exposure. This impairs skin's ability to protect against extreme temperatures, toxins, microorganisms, radiation, and injury.
The researchers, including Alpesh Patel, formerly at US-based beauty company Living Proof, and Nithin Ramadurai from Olivo Laboratories, set out to develop a protective coating that could restore the properties of healthy skin, for both medical and cosmetic applications.
They created a library of more than 100 possible polymers, all of which contained a chemical structure known as siloxane - a chain of alternating atoms of silicon and oxygen.
These polymers can be assembled into a network arrangement known as a cross-linked polymer layer (XPL). The researchers then tested the materials in search of one that would best mimic the appearance, strength, and elasticity of healthy skin.
The best-performing material has elastic properties very similar to those of skin. It easily returned to its original state after being stretched more than 250 per cent (natural skin can be elongated about 180 per cent).
In laboratory tests, the novel XPL's elasticity was much better than that of two other types of wound dressings now used on skin - silicone gel sheets and polyurethane films.
The researchers performed several studies in humans to test the material's safety and effectiveness. In one study, the XPL was applied to the under-eye area where "eye bags" often form as skin ages.
The material applied a steady compressive force that tightened the skin, an effect that lasted for about 24 hours.
In another study, the XPL was applied to forearm skin to test its elasticity. When the XPL-treated skin was distended with a suction cup, it returned to its original position faster than untreated skin.
The researchers also tested the material's ability to prevent water loss from dry skin. Two hours after application, skin treated with the novel XPL suffered much less water loss than skin treated with a high-end commercial moisturiser.
The research was published in the journal Nature Materials.

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