Genetically engineered human keratin for haircare

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Keratin Protein

Human keratin has been genetically engineered by a US based
skincare company, with the aim of incorporating the compound into
skin and hair care products.

The genetically engineered keratin, will replace the hydrolyzed keratin currently used in skin and hair care products, which the company claim is less effective. The protein could also be used in new products for wound healing and tissue repair, according to the US based company Dermaplus. This bioengineering of human keratin is an industry first, according to the company. Keratins are a family of fibrous structural proteins that occur in human hair, skin and nails. For this reason hydrolyzed forms of the protein can be used in shampoos and other cosmetics products as an anti-aging ingredient. Many different forms of the protein exist, however Dermaplus have concentrated on the isoforms 6 and 16, both found in the hair follicles. The company primarily cloned the messenger RNA sequences (sequences that act as a messenger between the DNA containing the genetic code, and the ribosomes that produce the protein), and then synthesized the human protein using vectors. The protein will function like natural keratin unlike the hydrolyzed keratin that is normally used in skin and hair products, say the researchers. CosmeticsDesign spoke to Lorenzo DeLuca of Dermaplus, who said that the protein will be incorporated into the already existing Keracyte scalp conditioning product, in the near future. The new improved scalp conditioner will contain the human keratin designed to augment and replace the naturally expressed keratin in the hair bulb with the hope it will be incorporated in the hair fiber. In addition the product will contain anti-oxidant compounds, DHT antagonists (thought to fight against hair loss), and collagen stimulating compounds, according to DeLuca. "We are also planning a leave-on hair (not scalp) conditioner that will contain Keratin polymers. These new polymers will adhere to the hair and deliver the protein directly to the hair shafts"​ said DeLuca In addition, the company is considering adding keratin to its skin care lines where it would work to strengthen the epidermis. If attached to a hydrophobic adhesive polymer it will coat the skin surface, providing a protective layer against photodamage, said DeLuca. The company's already existing anti-aging product Dermalastyl contains bioengineered tropoelastin, the building block of elastin. Dermaplus claim that this is the first skin care line to include a complete functional human protein produced by genetic engineering as an ingredient.

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