COLLAGEN growth has long been seen as the ultimate prize for makers of anti-ageing skin cream. Now there is a clue to how an ingredient in some anti-wrinkle treatments may stimulate this growth and restore skin's elasticity.
To find out how the compound Matrixyl works, Ian Hamley of the University of Reading, UK, examined the nanoscale arrangement of its long carbon chain and the peptide of five amino acids attached to one end.
Similar compounds containing peptides made up of fewer amino acids tend to form cylindrical structures, with all the long chains pointing inwards and the peptides pointing outwards. In Matrixyl, however, such cylinders are outnumbered by flat "nanotapes", in which the molecules are lined up in two layers with all the peptides on the upper and lower surfaces (Chemical Communications, DOI: 10.1039/c0cc03793a).
The large, flat surface formed by nanotapes may facilitate the build-up of collagen, says Hamley. He hopes this work will help research into regenerative medicine for injuries to collagen-containing tissue such as skin and the eye.
However, what happens when you actually apply it to skin is still unknown, says Christopher Griffiths at the University of Manchester, UK.