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Researchers Find Master Skin Gene

Posted: April 6, 2009

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Skin is actually the largest organ in the human body and has important functions in protecting people from infection, toxins, microbes and solar radiation. But it's not static—skin cells are constantly dying and being replaced by new cells, to the extent that human skin actually renews its surface layers every three to four weeks. Wrinkles, in fact, are a reflection of slower skin regeneration that occurs naturally with aging.

Major advances have been made in recent years in understanding how skin develops in space and time, and in recent breakthroughs scientists learned how to re-program adult skin cells into embryonic stem cells. "When you think about therapies for skin disease or to address the effects of skin aging, basically you're trying to find ways to modulate the genetic network within cells and make sure they are doing their job," Indra said. "We now believe that CTIP2 might be the regulator that can do that. The next step will be to find ways to affect its expression."

One of the ways that some ancient botanical extracts or other compounds may accomplish their job in helping to rejuvenate skin, Indra said, is by stimulating gene expression. A more complete understanding of skin genetics might allow that process to be done more scientifically, effectively and permanently.

Journal reference: 1. Olga Golonzhka, Xiaobo Liang, Nadia Messaddeq, Jean-Marc Bornert, Adam L Campbell, Daniel Metzger, Pierre Chambon, Gitali Ganguli-Indra, Mark Leid and Arup K Indra. Dual Role of COUP-TF-Interacting Protein 2 in Epidermal Homeostasis and Permeability Barrier Formation. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2008.

Adapted from materials provided by Oregon State University