The use of nanotechnology to restore skin's youthfulness is being examined by an expert at University of Reading, UK.
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.
Ian Hamley is trying to find out how the compound Matrixyl works by studying 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, reports New Scientist.
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.
The flat surfaces formed by nanotapes may facilitate the build-up of collagen, he said.
Hamley hopes that 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.
The study is published in Chemical Communications.