Is RNAi the ‘Next Big Thing’ in Consumer Skin Care?

Happy senior couple portrait.

(DGIwire) — When it comes to skin care, many cosmetic products promise a lot…and deliver a lot less. But what if skin care products were able to harness a cutting-edge molecular tool that directly blocked the proteins that trigger problems like uneven skin tone and wrinkles?

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, one common issue is hyperpigmentation—a condition when patches of skin become darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin.

Meanwhile, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the gradual development of facial wrinkles, whether fine surface lines or deeper creases and folds, is the classic early sign of accumulated skin damage and inevitable aging. Premature aging and wrinkling of the skin may be accelerated by excessive exposure to the sun and other elements, overactive facial expression muscles, the frequent use of tobacco products, poor nutrition or skin disorders.

“Although advice abounds on the best way to address uneven skin tone and wrinkles, a more effective approach to dealing with these two skin problems may come from the world of RNA research,” says Dr. Geert Cauwenbergh, President and CEO of RXi Pharmaceuticals. “Our researchers have already begun to investigate ways in which the proteins responsible for triggering these conditions can be blocked.”

RXi Pharmaceuticals is building on the work of the company’s Scientific Advisory Board Chairman and Nobel Laureate, Dr. Craig Mello. Dr. Mello’s co-discovery of RNA interference—“RNAi” for short— is the foundation of the company’s novel self-delivering RNAi platform, called sd-rxRNA®. RNAi is a natural mechanism which leads to the destruction of specific RNAs, and thereby reduces the expression of those targeted genes.

“We have already demonstrated that an sd-rxRNA compound, RXI-231, can help block the effects of tyrosinase, a key enzyme in the creation of melanin,” says Cauwenbergh. “Based on this finding, RXI-231 is being developed as a cosmetic ingredient for consumer-focused products that may improve the appearance of uneven skin tone and pigmentation.”

In addition, RXi Pharmaceuticals has shown that another sd-rxRNA compound, RXI-185, can help block the effects of a different enzyme, collagenase. This compound is in development as a cosmetic ingredient for potential products that may improve the appearance of wrinkles or loose skin.

“In recent years, a great amount of science has developed around our understanding of the links between RNA interference and protein production. In the future, those with imperfect skin may be able to draw on RNAi to address their concerns,” adds Cauwenbergh.