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Stem Cells

Stem cell technology

Stem cell technology is one of the most dynamic areas of dermatological research and innovation today, centred on the concept that skin cells could be not just repaired but replaced entirely.

In plants, stem cells are found predominantly at the meristem, the area where new growth occurs. Plant stem cells, as with human stem cells, have the ability to self-renew and replace damaged or deteriorating cells. Plant stem cells are undifferentiated and have the potential to divide, and renew, without limit. It is this ability to self-renew - their status as “the origin of plant vitality” (Nature) – that holds such potential promise for dermatology.

Harnessing the potential for regeneration

As part of our ageing process, the natural self-renewal undergone by stem cells – and all cells - begins to slow. This is evidenced, for example, in the slower healing rate of wounds and a general loss of elasticity to the epidermis, palpable to sight and touch.

Plant stem cells offer the hope that this process may be offset. In addition, plant stem cells have been shown to protect against the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals, and against UV-induced radiation and the damage it causes to skin including photoageing and its associated effects.

The cosmeceutical use of plant stem cells is intended to utilise their regenerative potential and their antioxidant abilities to rejuvenate, to provide photoprotective properties and to inhibit inflammation.

Unique abilities of the plant stem cell

Crucially, plant stem cells are totipotent, meaning they have the ability to develop into any cell (as opposed to a specific cell for a specific organ) and therefore generate an entirely new plant.

Key research has always focused on plant-derived stem cell extracts available for cosmeceutical use with the intention of harnessing their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Plant stem cells have been identified as naturally occurring botanicals with substantial antioxidant activity proven to protect skin stem cells from UV-induced oxidative stress, inhibit inflammation, neutralise free radicals and reverse the effects of photoageing.

Products containing extracts derived from plant stem cells have the ability to promote healthy cell proliferation and to this end we have chosen to use stem cell extracts from argan, sea fennel, gardenia and sea holly, all of which are used to potent effect in our Stem Cell Collagen Activator.

Perhaps the most promising and exciting element of plant stem cells is the hope that in time they may be able to be used to stimulate the regeneration of human stem cells as well as for their potent abilities to protect the skin from oxidative damage, from free radicals or UV rays.

Plant stem cell technology is still in its infancy but already appears to offer so much exciting promise for dermatology and cosmetic science. It will be vital to harness the best of plant stem cell power, combining it with the best delivery systems and formulations, in order to optimise this potential paradigm for our skin.

References and sources

Moruś M, Baran M, Rost-Roszkowska M, Skotnicka-Graca U. Plant stem cells as innovation in cosmetics Acta Pol Pharm. 2014 Sep-Oct;71(5):701-7. Shammas MA. Telomeres, lifestyle, cancer, and aging. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2011;14(1):28-34. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e32834121b1. Linder J. Stem cell technology and the skin. The Dermatologist. Vol 19, issue 3, March 2011. Aichinger E1, Kornet N, Friedrich T, Laux T. Plant stem cell niches. Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2012;63:615-36. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042811-105555. Epub 2012 Feb 9.