Medesthetics

MAR 2014

MedEsthetics—business education for medical practitioners—provides the latest noninvasive cosmetic procedures, treatment trends, product and equipment reviews, legal issues and medical aesthetics industry news.

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Human eyes have explored only 5% of the salty water world that makes up more than 70% of the earth's sur- face. Yet, with improved technology, we're seeing a surge of interest in marine compounds that could prove useful in medicine and, specifi cally, cosmeceuticals. "A search of PubMed shows that during the '80s, there were 2,000 research articles about marine organisms. That more than doubled to 6,000 during the '00s and went up more than three-fold during the fi rst decade of the new millennium to more than 20,000," says Pierre-Yves Morvan, director, research and development for Phytomer (phytomer.com), a manufacturer of marine-based skincare products. "In just the last three years, there have been more than 15,000 articles on marine organisms." What scientists are studying is also changing. In the past, the focus was on fi sh and large plants like kelp. "Now the excitement is about microalgae and marine bacteria," says Morvan. "Unicellular organisms make up more than 95% of the living organisms in the oceans, and we've yet to discover 99% of these." Marine compounds are currently used in an antibiotic derived from fungi, compounds from a sponge that can be used to treat cancer and neurotoxin from a sea snail that is a more effective pain killer than morphine. "The increased interest makes sense," says Sandra Lee, MD, dermatologist, Skin Physicians & Surgeons, Upland, California. "These microorganisms grow where no other life forms can, deep in the ocean under the most severe conditions. If they can survive there, maybe they have developed compounds that would be helpful to us in our efforts to protect ourselves from environmental stresses. We've developed a term for this: thalassotherapy." James Hughes, PhD, president, Sea Tech Bio (seatech- bio.us), a company that specializes in marine ingredients, acknowledges a long history of ethnic and traditional uses for marine products and says two other factors have con- tributed to the increased interest in marine compounds. "Unlike ingredients sourced from land animals, like pigs and cattle, there is less likelihood of transferring harmful organisms, such as prions, from cold water organisms," he says. "And we have begun to realize that aquatic animals and plants suffer damage from many of the same environ- mental sources as humans—UV radiation, temperature extremes, chemical irritants. Ocean organisms can be sunburned, and over the centuries they have likely devel- oped compounds that help them repair damage from the environment." ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES The discovery of new organisms is only half of the equa- tion. Scientists have also found innovative ways to harvest and synthesize marine compounds, and that's important. "Within the last 40 years, the techniques used to harvest and preserve marine compounds have become extremely sophisticated," says Denise Byrnes, product development offi cer and co-founder of Société Clinical Skincare (soci- eteskincare.com). "Freeze-drying and cold extraction have been proven to be the best manner in which to preserve seaweed's potency. Perfectly preserved algae is used to create high-quality, potent ingredients used in concentrated form in various skincare formulations." The challenge in sourcing marine ingredients is that natural variations in plants and animals make manufactur- ing biological materials from the living organisms diffi cult. Hughes explains: "The same species grown in different areas will have varying properties. It can even be diffi cult to identify specifi c species. Two species like Laminaria digitata and Laminaria saccharina growing fi ve miles apart have recognizably different properties, but many of the plants growing in between may have characteristics of both species. In addition, plant properties can vary depending on when you harvest. A plant may be high in a certain compound if harvested in the spring, while that compound may be barely detectable in plants harvested in the fall. How can the formulator know they are getting the properties they want?" To solve this problem, leaders in marine biotechnol- ogy, like France's Codif International, are going beyond extraction to "farming" marine organisms. "We call this 'Blue Biotechnology,'" says Morvan. In some cases, cultures of microalgae and macroalgae are grown in laboratory photo- bioreactors and in others they are 'farmed' in controlled open-sea sites. "We collect a specimen under ideal conditions, isolate it and culture it ourselves using photobioreac- tors, consisting of MARINE-BASED INGREDIENTS 48 MARCH 2014 | Med Esthetics © THINKSTOCK M a r i n e B a s e d M E D 3 1 4 . i n d d 4 8 Marine Based MED314.indd 48 2 / 1 1 / 1 4 3 : 5 6 P M 2/11/14 3:56 PM

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