“We found out that autophagy is very important in sebocytes in the sebaceous glands and making sebum. We also found out that it influences inflammation and skin barrier functions. All these things are the major factors related to acne formation,” said Sekyoo Jeong, CTO of Incospharm
Acne and autophagy
Jeong told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that there was a large demand for more sophisticated anti-acne ingredients in the market.
“Acne is one of the most common skin conditions that can impact the quality of life. The problem with acne treatments is that it has a lot of drawbacks. For example, the reduction of skin lipids is so drastic, skin becomes dry or the skin barrier gets damage. It also can cause irritation, especially in sensitive skin.”
The company has increasingly found that autophagy is an important factor in sebocytes and sebum production.
With this knowledge, the company developed a product to restore the hydrolipidic film to its healthy state. The hydrolipidic film, explained Jeong, is a layer made out of water, sebum and sweat that functions as the skin’s protective barrier.
“Our clinical studies showed that the reduction of comedones and skin surface lipid was significant. The skin barrier was also improved in the test group. We confirmed that the skin functions related to autophagy were improved in the test group but not significant in the control group,” elaborated Jeong.
The company is awaiting the final results of the research, which Jeong said would be finalised within weeks.
What is autophagy?
Autophagy first came into the spotlight when Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2016, for his finding of essential genes relating to autophagy.
Jeong explained: “Basically, autophagy is an innate cellular protection system. After [Ohsumi] identified how autophagy works, researchers found that that same system influences all living things. Incospharm is dedicated to develop new ingredients mostly based on peptides to find out the autophagy activating ingredients for cosmetic purposes. We have been developing such peptide-based ingredients for around six or seven years.”
Aside from Sebodulin, Incospharm also developed Aquatide, Adiposol and Melatrepin. Jeong believes this is only the beginning.
“We are quite sure that the autophagy investigation has more and more chances into dermatology area, for skin conditions or even cosmetic application and we are working on those kinds of projects already.”
Jeong revealed that the company was currently investigating sensitive skin and inflammatory conditions.
“There are theories about how people develop sensitive skin. One of the reasons suggested is related to an impaired skin barrier function. Our basic idea is to develop an ingredient to fortify the skin barrier function and also improve skin protection system. I believe autophagy activation or stimulation can improve sensitive skin condition and make it more resistant to sensitizers.”