• Anna Solana, science journalist

    The skin you live in

    The study of stem cells and their therapeutic potential is also a line of research in dermatology. For the first time, scientists from the University of Granada (Spain), using umbilical cord stem cells, have managed to create artificial skin that could help heal major burns and avoid animal testing.

     

    The researchers call for caution, however. Further testing of this artificial skin technique in humans needs to be done throughout 2014. There may be problems of rejection since, unlike in current clinical procedures, the skin is not part of the patient's own tissue. Even so, scientists are optimistic because to date it has not been possible to generate epidermal tissue using umbilical cord stem cells. The scientists have engineered a biomaterial made with fibrin, a protein derived from human plasma, and agarose, a biocompatible polysaccharide extracted from seaweed. Other research groups are working on the engineering of skin tissue similar to natural skin with its dermis and epidermis. They concede, however, that further work is necessary to improve artificial skin in terms of appearance and hair and sweat glands.

  • Rosa Taberner, dermatologist

    What bit me?

    25 May What bit me?

     

    Sources:

    The Journal of Family Practice

    Bites from insects can represent a real health problem for both children and adults. Besides the fact that these pesky creatures can transmit diseases (malaria, yellow fever, tick-bite fever, leishmaniasis, etc.), the main problem is almost always the bite itself. In some cases, due to the intensity and suddenness of the reaction, it's easy to determine the cause (a bee, wasp, horse fly, scorpion, etc.), but in others, when the reaction is delayed, the cause may not be so obvious.

     

    Mosquito bites are one of the worst things about the summer. Mosquitoes are found mainly in hot, humid areas, and around swamps and lakes. Doctors see a lot of patients about mosquito bites, especially people with inflammatory and allergic diseases, who are more susceptible to the effects of a bite. Female mosquitoes need a blood meal to ensure their eggs are fertile. The symptoms of a mosquito bite appear almost immediately and are easy to spot: redness, swelling and itching, and it's common for some people to have many bites. Read More

  • Fede Montagud, editor

    Turmeric: 21st century aloe vera?

    20 May Turmeric: 21st century aloe vera?

     

    Sources:

    Phytomedicine

    Turmeric, which has anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and healing properties, could be an important ingredient in the creams of the future, according to several studies by different universities. Extract of turmeric, used in curry, protects the skin from UV damage and helps regenerate it.

     

    Part of the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia and used in various Asian public health systems, turmeric is prescribed to treat stomach and joint ailments. It is also used as a coadjuvant treatment in wound healing and in revitalizing the skin. More recently, scientists at Ehime University (Japan) have found that two daily doses of curcumin (the active component in turmeric that gives it its characteristic yellow colour) can counteract the damage caused by prolonged exposure to UV light, improve the elasticity of skin and prevent the formation of wrinkles. Read More

  • Susana Andújar, chemist

    How Is the Efficacy of Cosmetics Measured?

    15 May How Is the Efficacy of Cosmetics Measured?

    Cosmetic products packaging and advertising can sometimes promise the moon. After watching certain TV commercials, you get the impression some creams will work wonders on your skin: wrinkles will disappear and the skin will become soft and silky, just like the model in the ad. But is it true? How do they check the real effects of cosmetics?

     

    Legislation on cosmetic products requires that proof be provided for each claim made. For this reason, before a new formula is launched on the market, the manufacturing company's R&D department performs different tests, depending on the product properties they want to focus on. The "claims" that appear on the label and in ads must be backed by scientific studies. These tests are done in vitro (in an artificial or natural laboratory environment), in vivo (on people, never on animals) or using both methods. Finally, the results are always checked by applying the product on volunteers. Read More

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