Surgeries to remove wrinkles and muscle paralysis-like side-effects causing injections with neurotoxins may soon be ancient history, for an American study suggests that controlling concentrations of a protein called RHAMM can help rejuvenate the skin.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab have revealed that RHAMM stands for Receptor for Hyaluronan Mediated Motility, the same protein that has been linked to the spread of several major human cancers.
Cell biologist Mina Bissell collaborated with Eva Turley, an oncology professor at the University of Western Ontario, to study the role that RHAMM plays in regulating the signalling of fat cells during the repairing of tissue wounds from injuries like skin cuts, heart attacks, and stroke.
The researchers blocked the expression of the RHAMM protein in mice either by deleting its gene or through the introduction of a blocking reagent.
They found that blocking the expression of RHAMM could be used to selectively induce the generation of fat cells to replace those lost in the aging process.
They also observed that blocking RHAMM reduced deposits of unhealthy visceral fat, which suggested that such an approach might also have a beneficial effect on patients with obesity-related diseases, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
"This technique could be developed as a means of providing a non-surgical approach for normalizing skin appearance after reconstructive surgery, for wrinkle reduction, and for face lifts and figure enhancement," said Bissell.
Turley added: "Unlike neurotoxin agents, which have to be injected periodically, a localized injection of a RHAMM inhibitor should produce long-lasting skin volumizing effects and would not involve muscle paralysis, which means there would be no loss of expression if it were to be injected into the face."
Another unique advantage of RHAMM is that its expression in normal adult human tissues is restricted.
"Therefore, anti-RHAMM agents should have low toxicity and according to preliminary animal studies, could be beneficial to patients with a tumour or inflammation-related disease," said Turley.