Scientists from Nu Skin and Purdue University presented their discovery of an enzyme that produces age accelerating free radicals at International Investigative Dermatology in Japan this week. Sun exposure and cigarette smoke are well known as external manufacturers of free radicals and causes of premature skin aging. Internal causes In contrast comparatively little is known about the precise internal causes of skin aging. Now, Nu Skin claims to have compelling evidence that the enzyme arNOX generates free radicals and contributes to skin aging. The company said the enzyme is present and active in skin cells and importantly its activity increases in the aging years of about 45-70. Potential applications Commenting on the significance of this and the potential of the discovery, Nu Skin spokesperson Helen Knaggs said: "Evidence of arNOX in the skin provides further insights into potentially revolutionary therapies for skin care, particularly because its activity correlates with the ages when people begin to see their skin lose its elasticity and firmness, and notice more discoloration and lines and wrinkles." Knaggs added: "If we can develop innovative ways to inhibit arNOX activity and prevent the production of free radicals in the first place, then we can address both sides of the equation - correcting free radical damage from external sources, while at the same time preventing free radical production from internal sources." New class of proteins Hailed as major breakthrough in anti-aging, arNOX is one of a class of newly-identified ECTO-NOX (external oxidase or ENOX) proteins. These proteins become increasingly active to generate additional metabolic energy as cell mitochondria age and produce less energy. Regarding skin aging and the particularities of arNOX, in the dermis and epidermis the enzyme generates superoxide at the cell surface that is capable of damaging adjacent cells, lipoproteins and other structural components of the skin's extracellular matrix, such as collagen and elastin.