There is a passion going on in the world of cosmetics for micro-organisms and other bacteria, both those that are found in the environment and those that settle in our human bodies. What new actives can they produce? What interactions can we generate with them to design new skin treatments? This was the main theme of the scientific conferences organized for the Jean-Paul Marty Days held in Paris on December 8-9, 2015. And it was an opportunity for Mibelle Biochemistry to introduce a new, absolutely innovative anti-aging cosmetic active derived from snow micro-algae.
Everyone knows about the advantages of calorie restriction (CR) on life expectancy. This dietary regimen that involves reducing the calorie intake by between 25% and 65%, while maintaining optimal levels of protein, vitamins and minerals, has been demonstrated in a variety of species, such as yeast, apes, worms, dogs, mice and rats, to protect against stress and decelerate the biological aging process resulting in improved health-span and extended lifespan.
Diet and sports: the keys to a long life
At the Cellular Level, CR Activates Detoxification and DNA Repair.
Under the effect of a decrease in the nutrient, there is a decline in glucose and insulin levels, which leads to a downregulation of their receptors, boosting the transcription factors FOXO located downstream the insulin signaling that control the response to different types of stress, regulating the cell cycle and promoting cell survival via DNA damage repair and free radical detoxification in the cells: they are a sort of life expectancy regulators…
FOXO factors are also stimulated by the AMPK enzyme, whose production is facilitated by physical exercise, but which declines with age and the excess of calories.
So, to put things very simply: we should eat little and move a lot, so our cells can live better and longer! This is not a scoop, but… even if we all have good resolutions, they do remain easier to make than keep!
But how can this possibly have to do anything with cosmetics? Would it be possible to imagine an active able to act on cells like the calorie restriction/sports combination, but without making any other effort than regularly applying a cosmetic product?
The story starts in the heart of eternal snows…
Coenochloris Signiensis: the snow algae
Snow algae are single-cell algae with the unique ability to actively live at a temperature of approximately 0°C. In contrast, most other plants either reduce their metabolic activities or are simply unable to survive at this temperature.
Snow algae grow in areas where there is either an Alpine or polar climate in which there is snow all year round (permanent snow). Therefore, these extremophile algae have the ability to thrive in freezing water with very low nutrient levels.
Snow algae adapt to their environment by modifying their pigmentation.
• At the beginning of winter, the snow algae enter into a dormant phase, resting in the form of red spores under the snow. In fact, the algae turn red as they produce considerably more carotenoid pigments than chlorophyllones in order to protect against UV rays.
• In spring, increased levels of nutrients and light, as well as melted ice stimulate germination: snow algae cells appear green as they predominantly contain chlorophyll pigments. Chlorophyll absorbs energy from light in order to convert it into chemical energy (carbohydrates) that will fuel the activities of the algae. This is the photosynthesis process. In addition, the snow algae green cells have a pair of front-mounted flagella that enables them to ply the films of water found in melting snow. Consequently, the snow algae can travel towards the surface of the snow where they propagate.
• At the end of summer, this growth / reproduction stage alternates with a dormant one. As a result, snow algae green cells transform once again into red spores to survive until the following summer.
Pigment concentration change is one of the strategies developed by the snow algae to enable them to adapt to their extreme habitat. Production of other secondary metabolites such as biopolymers (gallerten), antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGPs) stress modifiers and osmotically active amino acids and sugars also help these extremophile algae to survive in their habitat.
From production to objectification
All these properties, like the substances produced by these snow algae, have drawn the attention of Mibelle Biochemistry , a company specialized in the development of innovative cosmetic actives.
First, the challenge consisted in mimicking the natural environment of the snow algae in special reactors, to make their culture possible. Once this step was successfully performed, there still remained to manage the harvest, which was carried out by opening the cell walls, encapsulating cell fragments and content into liposomes, and spraying them on a powder based on maltodextrin.
This process offers numerous advantages, among which the preservation of the snow algae species (through a sustainable process based on biotechnology), the availability of snow algae material regardless of the season and market demand, a material that is completely free of environmental pollutants and pesticides, and constant concentrations of metabolites in the extract through a defined and controlled process.
A new cosmetic ingredient was born, and it bears the name of 'Coenochloris Signiensis Extract, Maltodextrin, Lecithin, Aqua/Water.' The laboratory adds that it is 'preservative-free,' green and sustainable: what more to ask for? Evidence of its efficacy, of course…
And this is what Mibelle’s studies are intended to provide.
• Stimulation of Klotho gene: independent of the nutrient and insulin levels, this gene plays a role in the aging process by inhibiting the phosphorylation of the insulin/IGF-1 receptor. Stimulation of Klotho thus induces a CR-like cellular metabolism. As far as this is concerned, the action of snow algae was objectified at 0.1%.
• Activation of AMPK: Snow Algae extract stimulates AMPK activation in a dose dependent manner both under normal and calorie excess conditions. Thus, it maintains the cellular defence systems in spite of calorie excess and prevents the age-related decline of AMPK.
• Stimulation of collagens: at 0.1%, snow algae extract was shown to neutralize this decrease for the collagen I gene and in the case of collagen III – the most abundant collagens in the skin – overcompensate for it.
And these are just a few results: snow algae have also demonstrated their activity on the dermal-epidermal junction (which guarantees the efficacy of the skin’s barrier function), and have also shown moisturising, smoothing, or reducing age spots effects.
We want some, shall we ask for more? This new active is not yet very widely used in the products available on the market. It
be found in Prairie’s Icy Crystal range… but for consumers who can afford it. It was also integrated into various formulas by brands like Dr Grandel in Germany, Rodial and Skin Chemists in the United Kingdom, and Elisabeth Grant in Canada. But it was only launched in 2014, and it is more than likely to be found soon in wider ranges of products!
We are already dreaming of it being objectified and used in slimming products… which still has not been studied by Mibelle Biochemistry.