Note that we did not use the word “may” in our title. This is because we know for a fact that what we learn about the human genome is changing our work as practitioners in the aesthetic and cosmetic fields. This is true not only for TSLMS members and those who attend our annual SCALE Music City conference and meeting – but also for all of us. In the simplest of forms, this is because the more we know about human DNA the more we know how to repair and adjust the human body. This will help us to slow down and even reverse the signs of aging and help change the way that individual people evolve. And while some of this is highly controversial, overwhelmingly there are more and more people who want us to be able to fundamentally alter their very essence to accomplish a ‘better’ version.
Despite working in the medical field, not everyone is up to speed on the latest in DNA. While we could lay out a very technical description here, we have taken a liking to a series of Ted Talks that does this for us:
For four billion years, what lived and died on Earth depended on two principles: natural selection and random mutation. Then humans came along and changed everything — hybridizing plants, breeding animals, altering the environment and even purposefully evolving ourselves. Juan Enriquez provides five guidelines for a future where this ability to program life rapidly accelerates. “This is the single most exciting adventure human beings have been on,” Enriquez says. “This is the single greatest superpower humans have ever had. (Source).
James Watson has led a long, remarkable life, starting at age 12, when he was one of radio’s high-IQ Quiz Kids. By age 15, he had enrolled in the University of Chicago, and by 25, working with Francis Crick (and drawing, controversially, on the research of Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin), he had made a discovery that would eventually win the three men the Nobel Prize. Watson and Crick’s 1953 discovery of DNA’s double-helix structure paved the way for the astounding breakthroughs in genetics and medicine that marked the second half of the 20th century. And Watson’s classic 1968 memoir of the discovery, The Double Helix,changed the way the public perceives scientists, thanks to its candid account of the personality conflicts on the project. From 1988 to 1994, he ran the Human Genome Project. His current passion is the quest to identify genetic bases for major illnesses; in 2007 he put his fully sequenced genome online, the second person to do so, in an effort to encourage personalized medicine and early detection and prevention of diseases. (Source).
Secrets, disease and beauty are all written in the human genome, the complete set of genetic instructions needed to build a human being. Now, as a scientist and entrepreneur Riccardo Sabatini shows us, we have the power to read this complex code, predicting things like height, eye color, age and even facial structure — all from a vial of blood. And soon, Sabatini says, our new understanding of the genome will allow us to personalize treatments for diseases like cancer. We have the power to change life as we know it. How will we use it? (Source).
But really, how does this all relate to the industry we work in?
DNA and Skin
A major article in 2017 tells an even better story about DNA. Not only is it the determinant of what we look like and how we develop, and ultimately age (environmental factors aside) – it is also the key to altering all of that.
That piece in 2017 by Global Cosmetics Industry Magazine, points out that people can get a DNA test for their skin that generates an analysis and report on certain “key genetic markers.”
Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Glucose-related fine lines and wrinkles, including anti-wrinkle promotion and wrinkle formation factors.
Sun Protection: Gene variations that can weaken the skin’s natural protection against the sun.
Skin Sensitivity: Four genes that regulate the body’s inflammatory response and one gene related to pollution and fragrance sensitivity.
Skin Elasticity: Quality of collagen structure that supports the skin and tests for collagen depreciation.
Pigmentation: Two genes can affect an individual’s tanning response, including a predisposition to burning and sun spots, as well as the “freckle factor” gene that influences the production of melanin.
Collagen Quality: Four genes are tested for collagen fiber formation, collagen repair (including skin barrier protection), and collagen breakdown, which determines how well a person’s body forms and remodels collagen.
Skin Antioxidants: Checks five genes associated with protecting the skin against free-radical damage, including free-radical scavengers that protect the skin from oxidative damage as well as pollution protection.
In addition to assessing an individual’s risk factor based on their gene profile, the analysis also provides recommendations for topical, supplemental and professional treatments if his or her score indicated non-ideal findings.
Where the cosmetics industry goes, so too does the skin procedure industry. We are essentially hand-in-hand.
DNA and Fixing The Skin
We have a lot of incentive to pay attention to the developments in this field at TSLMS. And while the largest movements in DNA therapy for the skin are on the cosmetic side, the medical side is just as invested in this billion-dollar industry. Included is life changing and life-saving medicine. For instance, as noted by Nature, medical science is altering genes to heal skin diseases and has been since 1994.
The idea of growing genetically modified skin for therapeutic use was first proposed in 1994 by dermatologist Gerald Krueger at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and De Luca and his team reported the results from an initial small clinical trial of genetically modified skin grafting back in 2006. The recipient was a 36-year-old man with JEB caused by a LAMB3mutation. He was treated with nine small patches of skin that were grown from his own epidermal cells and modified with a viral vector expressing the missing gene. The grafts remained stable and healthy for more than a year, proving that the technique had the potential to provide long-term correction of the condition.
The implications are deep and wide and the possibilities are limitless. As gene therapy science advances we will have tools at our disposal to help give people truly an entirely new skin – one that might even be altered to stay looking younger much longer. And while that may sound like science fiction, we are likely closer than you think.