New study reveals how skin cells prepare to heal wounds

Spatially choreographed gene expression in a healing skin wound, with insets showing the predicted differentiation trajectories of epidermal cells in unwounded and wounded skin. Credit: UCI School of Medicine

A team of University of California, Irvine researchers have published the first comprehensive overview of the major changes that occur in mammalian skin cells as they prepare to heal wounds. Results from the study provide a blueprint for future investigation into pathological conditions associated with poor wound healing, such as in diabetic patients.


“This study is the first comprehensive dissection of the major changes in cellular heterogeneity from a normal state to wound healing in skin,” said Xing Dai, Ph.D., a professor of biological chemistry and dermatology in the UCI School of Medicine, and senior author. “This work also showcases the collaborative efforts between biologists, mathematician and physicists at UCI, with support from the National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases-funded UCI Skin Biology Resource-based Center and the NSF-Simons Center for Multiscale Cell Fate Research.

The study, titled, “Defining epidermal basal cell states during skin homeostasis and wound healing using single-cell transcriptomics,” was published this week in Cell Reports.

“Our research uncovered at least four distinct transcriptional states in the epidermal basal layer as part of a ‘hierarchical-lineage’ model of the epidermal homeostasis, or stable state of the skin, clarifying a long-term debate in the skin stem cell field,” said Dai.

Using single-cell RNA sequencing coupled with RNAScope and fluorescence lifetime imaging, the team identified three non-proliferative and one proliferative basal cell state in homeostatic skin that differ in metabolic preference and become spatially partitioned during wound re-epithelialization, which is the process by which the skin and mucous membranes replace superficial epithelial cells damaged or lost in a wound.

Epithelial tissue maintenance is driven by resident stem cells, the proliferation and differentiation dynamics of which need to be tailored to the tissue’s homeostatic and regenerative needs. However, our understanding of tissue-specific cellular dynamics in vivo at single-cell and tissue scales is often very limited.

“Our study lays a foundation for future investigation into the adult epidermis, specifically how the skin is maintained and how it can robustly regenerate itself upon injury,” said Dai.

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More information: Daniel Haensel et al, Defining Epidermal Basal Cell States during Skin Homeostasis and Wound Healing Using Single-Cell Transcriptomics, Cell Reports (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.02.091

Journal information: Cell Reports

Research delivers new insights into how skin can regenerate after severe burns

Dr. Jeff Biernaskie, PhD Credit: UCalgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

People who suffer severe burns or extensive skin injuries are often left to live with extreme scarring, disfigurement, and skin that feels chronically tight and itchy. That’s because the body’s healing processes have evolved to focus on preventing infection by quickly closing up wounds, rather than regenerating or restoring normal skin tissue.


New research led by Dr. Jeff Biernaskie, Ph.D., has made an exciting leap forward in understanding how skin heals, which could lead to drug treatments to vastly improve wound healing. The study, published in the scientific journal Cell Stem Cell, was co-led by Dr. Sepideh Abbasi, Ph.D., Sarthak Sinha, MD/Ph.D. candidate and Dr. Elodie Labit, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow.

“We identified a specific population of progenitor cells that reside within the dermis, the deep connective tissue of the skin. Progenitor cells, are unique in that they are able to undergo cell division and generate many new cells to either maintain or repair tissues. Following injury, these dermal progenitors become activated, proliferate and then migrate into the wound where they generate nearly all of the new tissue that will fill the wound, both scar and regenerated tissue,” says Biernaskie, professor of stem cell biology in the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM), and the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society Chair in Skin Regeneration and Wound Healing.

Biernaskie’s intensive study, five years in the making, offers new knowledge on why certain dermal cells are able to regenerate new skin, rather than disfiguring scar tissue. Using cutting-edge genomics techniques to profile thousands of individual cells at different times after injury, the research team compared scar-forming versus regenerative zones within skin wounds.

“Remarkably, we found that although these cells come from the same cellular origin, different microenvironments within the wound activate entirely different sets of genes. Meaning, the signals found within ‘regenerative zones’ of the wound promote re-activation of genes that are typically engaged during skin development. Whereas, in scar-forming zones these pro-regenerative programs are absent or suppressed and scar-forming programs dominate.”

Working with these findings, the researchers then showed it’s possible to modify the genetic programs that govern skin regeneration.

“What we’ve shown is that you can alter the wound environment with drugs, or modify the genetics of these progenitor cells directly, and both are sufficient to change their behavior during wound healing. And that can have really quite impressive effects on healing that includes regeneration of new hair follicles, glands and fat within the wounded skin,” says Biernaskie.

This research offers critical insights into the molecular signals that drive scar formation during wound healing and it identifies a number of genetic signals that are able to overcome fibrosis and promote true regeneration of adult skin.

“This proof of principle is really important because it suggests that the adult wound-responsive cells do in fact harbor a latent regenerative capacity, it just simply needs to be unmasked,” says Biernaskie. “Now, we are actively looking for additional pathways that may be involved. Our hope is to develop a cocktail of drugs that we could safely administer in humans and animals to entirely prevent genetic programs that initiate scar formation in order to greatly improve the quality of skin healing.”

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More information: Sepideh Abbasi et al, Distinct Regulatory Programs Control the Latent Regenerative Potential of Dermal Fibroblasts during Wound Healing, Cell Stem Cell (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2020.07.008

Journal information: Cell Stem Cell

Coronavirus: Skin rash can be only COVID-19 symptom and should be fourth key sign, study finds

A hive-type rash, or urticaria, is among the three skin conditions that can be the only symptom of COVID-19. A hive-type rash, or urticaria, is among the three skin conditions that can be the only symptom of COVID-19.
Credit Pic: James Heilman

Three skin conditions are each identified by researchers as potentially the sole indicator of the illness.

A skin rash can sometimes be the only symptom of people infected with COVID-19, a study has concluded.

Three types of rashes are identified in the research by King’s College London, leading those behind the study to call for skin rashes to be included as a fourth key symptom of COVID-19.

The three established symptoms of COVID-19, as recognised by the NHS, are a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

The study – which has been published online but has not yet been peer-reviewed – drew upon data from the 336,000 regular UK users of the COVID Symptom Study app.

With that data, researchers found 8.8% of people who tested positive for the virus suffered a skin rash among their symptoms, compared with 5.4% of those who tested negative.

Similar results were seen in a further 8.2% of users with a rash who did not have a coronavirus test, but still reported the three established COVID-19 symptoms: a cough, fever or loss of smell.

The study said rashes associated with COVID-19 fell into three categories:

Hive-type rash (urticaria):

  • The sudden appearance of raised bumps on the skin, which come and go quite quickly over hours, and are usually very itchy.
  • It can involve any part of the body, and often starts with intense itching of the palms or soles, and can cause swelling of the lips and eyelids.
  • These rashes can present quite early on in the infection, but can also last a long time afterwards.

‘Prickly heat’ or chickenpox-type rash:

  • Areas of small, itchy red bumps that can occur anywhere on the body, but particularly the elbows and knees as well as the back of the hands and feet.
  • The rash can persist for days or weeks.

COVID fingers and toes (chilblains):

  • Reddish and purplish bumps on the fingers or toes, which may be sore but not usually itchy.

This type of rash is most specific to COVID-19, is more common in younger people with the disease, and tends to present later on.

Lead author Dr Veronique Bataille, consultant dermatologist at St Thomas’ Hospital and King’s College London, said: “Many viral infections can affect the skin, so it’s not surprising that we are seeing these rashes in COVID-19.

“However, it’s important that people know that in some cases, a rash may be the first or only symptom of the disease.

“So if you notice a new rash, you should take it seriously by self-isolating and getting tested as soon as possible.”

Although COVID-19 is often thought of as a virus that affects the respiratory system, rashes had been reported in a number of cases among people in China and elsewhere in Europe who had needed hospital treatment for severe symptoms of the disease.

However, this is the first and largest study to systematically gather data about skin rashes in milder cases across the wider population.

Consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk said: “These findings highlight the importance of keeping an eye on any new changes in your skin, such as lumps, bumps or rashes.

“Early reporting of COVID-associated rashes by members of the public and recognition of their significance by frontline healthcare practitioners – such as GPs, NHS 111 and hospital staff – may increase the detection of coronavirus infections and help to stop the spread.”

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Authors : Veronique Bataille, Alessia Visconti, Niccolo’ Rossi, Benjamin Murray, Abigail Bournot, Wolf, Sebastien Ourselin, Claire Steves, Timothy Spector, Mario Falchi

Researchers uncover novel approach for treating eczema

Credit : CC0 Public Domain 

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI) have identified a key enzyme that contributes to eczema, which may lead to better treatment to prevent the skin disorder’s debilitating effects.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis (AD), causes the ‘s protective barrier to break down, making it more vulnerable to foreign entities that can cause itching, inflammation, dryness and further degradation of the skin’s protective barrier.

“The symptoms people often experience with eczema make them more likely to avoid going outside their homes or to work,” says the study’s senior author, Dr. David Granville, a professor in UBC’s faculty of medicine and researcher at VCHRI. “It is estimated that the annual cost of eczema in North America is over $5.5 billion because of how it impacts people’s health and well-being.”

The Granzyme B enzyme is positively correlated with itchiness and disease severity in eczema. Researchers found that Granzyme B weakens the skin barrier by cleaving through the proteins holding cells together making it easier for allergens to penetrate across.

“Between cells in our skin are proteins that anchor them tightly together,” says Granville. “In some , such as eczema, Granzyme B is secreted by cells and eats away at those proteins, causing these bonds to weaken and the skin to become further inflamed and itchy.”

Researchers found that by knocking out Granzyme B with genetic modification, or inhibiting it with a topical gel, they could prevent it from damaging the skin barrier and significantly reduce the severity of AD.

“Previous work had suggested that Granzyme B levels correlate with the degree of itchiness and in patients with ; however, there was no evidence that this enzyme played any causative role,” says Granville. “Our study provides evidence that topical drugs targeting Granzyme B could be used to treat patients with and other forms of dermatitis.”

Researchers aim to quell the root cause of eczema symptoms

Approximately 15-20 per cent of Canadians live with some form of AD, and among Canadian children under the age of five, AD affects between 10-15 per cent. Of those, around 40 per cent will experience symptoms of the disease for the rest of their lives.

AD is also associated with an of developing a host of other inflammatory conditions, including food allergies, asthma and allergic rhinitis.

“Atopic dermatitis is the leading non-fatal health burden attributable to skin diseases,” says Dr. Chris Turner, the study’s lead author and former UBC postdoctoral fellow in Granville’s laboratory.

AD typically follows an itch-scratch cycle in which itchiness is followed by scratching and more itchiness. This cycle usually occurs during flare-ups, which can appear anytime, and sometimes weeks, months or years apart.

Corticosteroid creams are a common treatment for individuals with AD who experience more severe itching and rashes. However, these can thin the skin when used over a prolonged period of time, which can make skin more prone to damage and infection.

A gel or cream that stops or limits Granzyme B, thereby reducing the severity of AD, could be a safer and more effective long-term treatment.

“A gel or cream that blocks Granzyme B could have fewer if any side-effects and circumvent the itch-scratch cycle, making flare-ups less pronounced,” says Turner

While a commercially available treatment is still a ways away, the researchers see great promise in this line of research and are pursuing further clinical trials into Granzyme B and Granzyme B inhibitors.

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Authors : Christopher T. Turner, Matthew R. Zeglinski, Katlyn C. Richardson, Stephanie Santacruz, Sho Hiroyasu, Christine Wang, Hongyan Zhao, Yue Shen, Roma Sehmi, Hermenio Lima, Gail M. Gauvreau, David J. Granville DOI:

The foot microbiome

The human skin microbiome is represented by bacteria, fungi, viruses, and mites.


Every human being possess their own unique skin microbiome because intrinsic and environmental factors have a significant impact on the quality and quantity of microorganism. Every site of the body is a separate microbial niche.


The feet are one of the most unique and heterogeneous microbial niches of human body with areas that differ by skin thickness, anatomical features, distribution of sweat glands, pH, and the availability of oxygen.


Healthy skin of the foot is inhabited by Corynebacteriaceae , Micrococcaceae , Propionibacteriaceae , Actinobacteria , Clostridiales , Lactobacillaceae , Streptococcaceae , Enterobacteriaceae , Moravellaceae , Neisseriaceae , Pastereullaceae , and Proteobacteria . The most common fungi present on the feet are Malassezzia , Cryptococcus , Aspergillus , Rhodotorula , Epicoccum , Saccharomyces , Candida , Epidermophyton Microsporum , and Trichophyton .


The disturbance of the foot microbiome causes dysbiosis and may lead to pitted keratolysis, fungal, and viral infections or even to protothecosis.

Authors: Adamczyk, K, Garncarczyk, A, Antończak, P, Wcisło‐Dziadecka, D. The foot microbiome. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020; 19: 10391043.

Sunscreen chemicals absorbed into body, study finds

The chemicals in sunscreens help shield people from the sun’s rays, but they are also absorbed into the body at levels that raise some safety questions, a new study confirms.

The study, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is a follow-up to a 2019 investigation. Both reached the same conclusion: The active ingredients in popular sunscreens can be absorbed into the blood at levels that exceed the FDA threshold where they can be presumed safe.

However, both the agency and skin cancer experts were quick to stress that there is no proof that sunscreen ingredients cause any harm. And people should keep using the products to prevent sunburn and curb the risk of skin cancer, they said.

“The fact that an ingredient is absorbed through the skin and into the body does not mean the ingredient is unsafe,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Rather, this finding calls for further industry testing to determine the safety and effect of systemic exposure of sunscreen ingredients, especially with chronic use.”

Last year, FDA researchers reported on a study of four active ingredients in widely used sunscreen lotions and sprays. That study found that all four were absorbed into study volunteers’ bloodstreams, at concentrations that far surpassed 0.5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).

That’s the FDA-set threshold for waiving additional safety testing.

The new study tested three more active ingredients, along with three additional sunscreen formulations. Again, all tested chemicals were absorbed into volunteers’ bloodstreams at levels exceeding the safety-testing mark.

“Sunscreen chemicals, like all over-the-counter medications, only undergo safety testing if they are shown to be systemically absorbed above the FDA safety threshold level,” said Dr. Kanade Shinkai, a dermatologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

The two FDA studies are the first to “clearly demonstrate” absorption of common sunscreen ingredients, Shinkai said.

“Whether this is dangerous is still not known,” she stressed. “But this highlights the need for safety testing.”

Shinkai co-wrote an editorial published with the findings Jan. 21 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The active ingredients in most sunscreens include chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule. They work by absorbing UV radiation from the sun and converting it into a small amount of heat.

There’s no proof those chemicals harm human health. But, the FDA says, animal research has raised questions about whether some—oxybenzone, in particular—can disrupt hormone activity.

This latest study involved 48 healthy people who were randomly assigned to use one of four sunscreen sprays or lotions. The participants applied the products, over most of the body, once on day one, and then four times per day for the next three days.

In most participants, the study found, were absorbed at levels beyond the FDA threshold after a single application.

And they often lingered in the body: In more than half of volunteers, levels of avobenzone, octisalate and octinoxate remained elevated for up to seven days, while homosalate and oxybenzone remained above-threshold for as long as 21 days.

However, even levels that exceed the FDA mark are very low, said Dr. Adam Friedman, a member of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and professor at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

“We’re talking about nanograms,” Friedman said. (A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram.) “All this study shows is that it’s possible to detect very tiny amounts of sunscreen ingredients in the blood. It was not designed to say anything about safety.”

One limitation of the study, the FDA noted, is the artificial lab conditions: In real life, people wear sunscreen outdoors, where they are exposed to heat and sunlight, which might affect absorption.

What is clear is that sunscreens can reduce skin cancer risk, said AAD president Dr. George Hruza.

In a written response to the study, he laid out some advice: “The AAD recommends that everyone seek shade, wear —including a lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses—and apply a broad-spectrum with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin.”

For people who want to avoid chemical-based sunscreens, Shinkai pointed to an alternative: mineral sunscreens, which contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These sit on the skin surface and act as a shield.

“[They] have been tested for systemic absorption and are not absorbed,” she said.

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For more details:
Murali K. Matta et al. Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients, JAMA (2020). DOI: 10.1001/jama.2019.20747

Ocean Swimming Alters Skin Microbiome, Increasing Vulnerability to Infection

Microbes plated from a seawater sample LAURA GóMEZ-CONSARNAU

Swimming in the ocean alters the skin microbiome and may increase the likelihood of infection, according to research presented at ASM Microbe 2019, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
“Our data demonstrate for the first time that ocean water exposure can alter the diversity and composition of the human skin microbiome,” said Marisa Chattman Nielsen, MS, a PhD student at the University of California, Irvine, the lead author on the study. While swimming normal resident bacteria were washed off while ocean bacteria were deposited onto the skin.”
The researchers detected ocean bacteria on all participants after air drying and at six and 24 hours post-swim, but some participants had acquired more ocean bacteria and/or had them persist for longer.
The research was motivated by previous studies which have shown associations between ocean swimming and infections, and by the high prevalence of poor water quality at many beaches, due to wastewater and storm water runoff. Recent research has demonstrated that changes in the microbiome can leave the host susceptible to infection, and influence disease states. Exposure to these waters can cause gastrointestinal and respiratory illness, ear infections, and skin infections.
The investigators sought 9 volunteers at a beach who met criteria of no sunscreen use, infrequent exposure to the ocean, no bathing within the last 12 hours, and no antibiotics during the previous six months. The researchers swabbed the participants on the back of the calf before they entered the water, and again after subjects had air dried completely following a ten-minute swim and at six and 24 hours post swim.
Before swimming, all individuals had different communities from one-another, but after swimming, they all had similar communities on their skin, which were completely different from the “before swim” communities. At six hours post swim, the microbiomes had begun to revert to their pre-swim composition, and at 24 hours, they were far along in that process.
“One very interesting finding was that Vibrio species—only identified to the genus level—were detected on every participant after swimming in the ocean, and air drying,” said. Nielsen. (The Vibrio genus includes the bacterium that causes cholera.) At six hours post swim, they were still present on most of the volunteers, but by 24 hours, they were present only on one individual.
“While many Vibrio are not pathogenic, the fact that we recovered them on the skin after swimming demonstrates that pathogenic Vibrio species could potentially persist on the skin after swimming,” said Nielsen. The fraction of Vibrio species detected on human skin was more than 10 times greater than the fraction in the ocean water sample, suggesting a specific affinity for attachment to human skin.
Skin is the body’s first line of defense, both physically and immunologically, during exposure to contaminated water. “Recent studies have shown that human skin microbiome plays an important role in immune system function, localized and systemic diseases, and infection,” said Nielsen. “A healthy microbiome protects the host from colonization and infection by opportunistic and pathogenic microbes.”

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Perfect Corp. Showcases Beauty Tech Innovation with ‘Beauty AI Personalized Solutions’ at CES 2020

CES 2020 High Tech Retailing stage with (from left to right), Adam Gam, Chief Marketing Officer, Perfect Corp.; Alice Chang, Founder and CEO, Perfect Corp.; Jay Anderson, Senior Vice President, Global Brand Technologies, Estée Lauder Companies; Natasha Haubrich, Senior Director of U.S. Innovation, Neutrogena; and JC Johnson, GVP of Digital Commerce, Strategy and Insights, Sally Beauty. (Photo: Business Wire)

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Perfect Corp., the leading beauty tech solutions provider behind the world’s leading virtual beauty app, YouCam Makeup, and Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 Innovation Awards honoree, showcases the future of beauty tech innovation with “Beauty AI Personalized Solutions” at the 2020 CES in Las Vegas. Perfect Corp. founder and CEO, Alice Chang, introduced the next-generation YouCam beauty tech solutions that combine advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) technology to deliver personalized, consumer-centric solutions to drive business.

Alice took the High Tech Retailing stage at CES 2020, alongside special guests Jay Anderson (Senior Vice President, Global Brand Technologies at The Estée Lauder Companies), Natasha Haubrich (Senior Director of U.S. Innovation at Neutrogena), and JC Johnson (GVP of Digital Commerce, Strategy and Insights at Sally Beauty) to reveal the newest AI and AR beauty tech personalized solutions.

The technology demonstration and panel discussion showcased the unique way these partner brands are leveraging YouCam’s advanced AI + AR technology to create more tailored, consumer-centric beauty shopping experiences that speak to the discerning modern-day beauty lover and drive their business. The in-depth discussion focused on the future of beauty tech, what Alice coined “Beauty AI Personalized Solutions,” and showcased how brands and retailers are leveraging custom technology solutions across omnichannel touchpoints to better understand and serve their customers’ needs.

“The modern-day consumer craves personalized products made just for them. This means brands need to know their customer’s unique demands to best serve them across all consumer touchpoints, online and offline,” explains Alice. “Beauty AI is the game-changer that helps beauty brands and retailers understand customers unique needs and effectively generate personalized style and product recommendations based on their demand and preferences.”

As an early adopter of Perfect Corp.’s YouCam’s AR beauty solutions back in 2015, The Estée Lauder Companies’ approach to beauty tech has been ever-evolving. “By fusing breakthrough technology with prestige beauty, our brands are providing our consumers around the world with innovative, personalized, aspirational and seamless experiences across in-store and online,” said Jay Anderson, Senior Vice President, Global Brand Technologies, The Estée Lauder Companies. “Artificial intelligence and augmented reality technologies like YouCam are taking the prestige beauty shopping experience to new heights, helping our consumers find their perfect lipstick color, foundation shade and more anytime, anywhere.”

Alice showcased how advanced AI + AR innovation opened up a new realm of possibility in the hair color and skin care categories, and how brands like Sally Beauty and Neutrogena have developed their own first-to-market personalized solutions in this space. Sally Beauty’s personalized ColorView™ virtual hair color try-on experience, powered by Perfect Corp.’s technology, plays to a consumer-centric strategy by matching customers with suggested hair product categories and hair color shades based on their individual preferences to help beauty shoppers make more confident purchase decisions. “Changing your hair color or your product regimen is a highly personal choice for customers. Our ColorView™ technology helps take the guess work out of selecting products and makes it easy to try on, share, and buy dozens of our best products,” said JC Johnson, GVP of Digital Commerce, Strategy and Insights at Sally Beauty.

This week at CES, Neutrogena debuted a new NEUTROGENA Skin360™ app that eliminated the need for a separate skin analysis tool. The 180-degree selfie analysis is now powered by Perfect Corp.’s YouCam technology, that provides lightning fast analysis for a broad range of skin parameters including wrinkles, fine lines, dark under-eye circles, dark spots and smoothness. “Consumers crave a holistic view of the internal and external factors impacting their skin and want expert guidance on how to achieve their best skin ever,” said Natasha Haubrich, Senior Director of Global Innovation for Neutrogena® at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health. “By eliminating the need for a separate skin analysis tool, the advanced diagnostics and behavior coaching within the NEUTROGENA Skin360™ app is more accessible so everyone can create an actionable, personalized plan to achieve their skin health goals.”

Perfect Corp.’s ‘Beauty AI’ solutions have changed the way brands and retailers connect with their consumers, instore and online. These advancements have allowed expansion outside the color-dominant virtual try-on experience and into skincare and haircare, creating an interactive and personalized consumer journey.

Discover the complete lineup of AI + AR solutions, and real-world implementation, on and set up a meeting with the Perfect Corp. team today.

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We are pleased to welcome you to the 11th International Conference on Skin Ageing and Challenges which will be held on June 4-5, 2020 in Porto, Portugal.

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Beiersdorf and Insilico employ AI technology in computer-simulated skin research

Hamburg, January 8, 2020 – Beiersdorf and Insilico Medicine, an artificial intelligence company developing end to end drug discovery pipelines, announced today that they are entering a collaboration to jointly discover novel, safe bioactive ingredients for a specific skin indication at an unparalleled pace, that will serve as the basis for developing appropriate skincare products.

“As part of our Open Innovation culture, we are always looking for new technologies and partners with strengths that complement ours. We are delighted to now be working with Insilico Medicine as a veritable expert when it comes to artificial intelligence. We are able to evaluate new active ingredients significantly more quickly and more efficiently by simulating biological effects in silico. This enables us to cater even better to the consumers’ as yet unmet skincare needs,” explains Dr. May Shana’a, Senior Corporate Vice President, Research and Development, at Beiersdorf.

Alex Zhavoronkov, CEO of Insilico Medicine, is likewise excited about the joint effort: “We firmly believe there is a great potential in this collaboration. We worked with many consumer companies in the past and in my opinion, Beiersdorf became an undisputed leader in the area of skin research as well as in digital technologies in recent decades. We are delighted that they have recognized the potential of artificial intelligence early on and hope to demonstrate the power of AI going forward in our collaboration.”

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Age prediction using Microbiota

Bacteroides are the most common bacteria species found in the human intestinal tract. Dennis Kunkel Microscopy/Science Source

The idea that you can predict someone’s age based on their gut microbiome is “very plausible” and of “tremendous interest” to scientists.

Dr. Zhavoronkov, longevity researcher at InSilico Medicine, Maryland and computer scientist and microbiome researcher, Robin Knight, director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues found out how the microbiome changes over time by examining more than 13,000 samples of gut bacteria from healthy individuals living across the globe.

Please see below Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov and colleagues’s abstract:

The human gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem that both affects and is affected by its host status. Zhavoronkov says this “microbiome aging clock” could be used as a baseline to test how fast or slow a person’s gut is aging

Previous analyses of gut microflora revealed associations between specific microbes and host health and disease status, genotype and diet.

Here, we developed a method of predicting biological age of the host based on the microbiological profiles of gut microbiota using a curated dataset of 1,165 healthy individuals (3,663 microbiome samples).

Our predictive model, a human microbiome clock, has an architecture of a deep neural network and achieves the accuracy of 3.94 years mean absolute error in cross-validation.

The performance of the deep microbiome clock was also evaluated on several additional populations.

We further introduce a platform for biological interpretation of individual microbial features used in age models, which relies on permutation feature importance and accumulated local effects.

This approach has allowed us to define two lists of 95 intestinal biomarkers of human aging. We further show that this list can be reduced to 39 taxa that convey the most information on their host’s aging.

Overall, we show that (a) micro biological profiles can be used to predict human age; and (b) microbial features selected by models are age-related.

These topics will be discussed during the conference, in the session Microbiota and recent scientific advances.

Sources: Human microbiome aging clocks based on deep learning and tandem of permutation feature importance and accumulated local effects

We are pleased to welcome you to the 11th International Conference on Skin Ageing and Challenges which will be held on June 4-5, 2020 in Porto, Portugal.

For more info: