We are thrilled to share an excerpt form Dr. Q Schulte aufm Erley's article on Plant Stem Cells. Dr. Q is an entrepreneur, scientist and founder of one of our most loved partners: Shtrands. Shtrands is a beauty industry innovator. They provide a hair care concierge service that brings you curated products and expert advice to match your hair texture, scalp condition and styling needs.
The highly competitive cosmetics industry is always looking for the “next best ingredient(s)” that can fight the aging process and this led to a sizable increase in the number of anti-aging products on the market. With this is coming an increased number of active ingredients developed for this category; one of these ingredients is stem cell extract.This is an ingredient that must be assessed carefully, as marketing claims often push the limits of the available science.
WHAT ARE STEM CELLS?
The concept of stem cells originated at the end of the 19th century as a theoretical postulate to account for the ability of certain tissues (blood, skin, etc.) to renew themselves for the lifetime of organisms even though they are comprised of short-lived cells. Stem cells’ isolation and identification happened many years later though.
Stem cells have received a fair share of attention in the public debate — mostly in connection with their potential for biomedical application and therapies. While the promise of organ regeneration have captured our imagination, it has gone almost unnoticed that plant stem cells represent the ultimate origin of much of the food we eat, the oxygen we breathe, as well the fuels we burn. Thus, plant stem cells may be ranked among the most important cells for human well-being.
A stem cell is a generic cell that can make exact copies of itself (daughters) indefinitely. These daughters can remain stem cells or further undergo differentiation (2). Such that a stem cell has the ability to make specialized cells for various tissues in the body, such as heart muscle, skin tissue, and liver tissue.
PLANT STEM CELLS
Because of their self-renewal functions, stem cells are the most important cells in the skin, as they are the source for continuous regeneration of the epidermis. Stem cell cosmetics are developed based on stem cell technology, which involves using extracts or culture media of stem cells. However, cosmetics containing human stem cells or their extracts have not been released into the market due to legal, ethical, and safety concerns. Meanwhile, plant stem cells, which circumvent these problems, are highly regarded in the cosmetics industry for improving culture technology.
The EU prohibits the use of cells, tissues, or products of human origin in cosmetics; stem cell therapy for anti-aging has not been approved or been deemed safe or effective in USA by the FDA. Furthermore, its use outside of a clinical research trial (which would be listed at www.clinicaltrials.gov) is prohibited. Whereas the Korea Food and Drug Association has allowed the use of sources originating from stem cell media in cosmetics since 2009 (3).
So, any cosmetics marketed as containing stem cells found on US market (should) contain stem cells extracted from plants.
A major difference between animal and plant stem cells is that plant stem cells provide cells for complete organs (branches, leaves, etc.), compared with the animal stem cells, which regenerate cells restricted to one tissue type.
Plants have nowhere to run when times get tough, so they must rely on an inner body plan to generate developmental responses to environmental changes.
Research by many labs in the last decades has uncovered a set of independent stem cell systems that fulfill the specialized needs of plant development and growth in four dimensions. In some long-lived plants, such as trees, plant stem cells remain active over hundreds or even thousands of years, revealing the exquisite precision in the underlying control of proliferation, self-renewal and differentiation.
PLANT STEM CELLS IN COSMETICS
There is some confusion around the term “stem cell” due to the marketing verbiage used by the cosmetic companies. In topical cosmetics the formulations don’t contain stem cells straight out of the plants. They are actually a range of plant stem cell extracts, which are manufactured using a cell culture technology. This technology consists of many and complicated methods that should ensure growth of plant cells, tissues or organs in the environment with a microbe-free nutrient. The plant cell technology allows synthesis of the biologically active substances that exist in plants, but are not commonly available in natural environment or are difficult to obtain by chemical synthesis.
The extracts obtained through this technology from the plant stem cells are currently used for production of both common or professional care cosmetics (4).
APPLE STEM CELL EXTRACTS USED IN HAIR CARE
The beneficial apple properties are known for centuries. Apples are cultivated today only for their taste, but earlier the main criterion of the type selection was the “shelf life” of the fruits.
One of such apple-tree types is Uttwiler Spatlauber which is growing in Switzerland. This is a type cultivated solely due to a possible long-time storage of fruits, which remain fresh even for several months. Some trees come from the plant cutting sets planted during the 18th century!!!
The stem cell extracts are made in 2 main steps: first, the tissue material is obtained from apples (collected from a cut surfaces of the apples). Secondly, the material is going through a complicated biotechnological process to make the stem cell extracts that contains certain active ingredients. These are actually the ingredients used in formulations marketed as containing stem cells (5).
Swiss biotech company Mibelle Biochemistry created the product named PhytoCellTecTM Malus Domestica, that is a liposomal formulation (extract) derived from the stem cells of the Uttwiler Spatlauber apples. The company has published in vitro experiments done with hair follicles that showed the ability of the Uttwiler Spatlauber stem cell extract to delaying of the tissue atrophy process (6); this ingredient delays hair aging.
ARGAN STEM CELLS ARE AMAZING FOR THE SKIN
At Teadora, we chose to include Mibelle's PhytoCellTecTM Argan Plant Stem Cells in our Butter and Brazilian Glow Oil and here are the details from Mibelle that helped to convince us this ingredient was a must have companion to the huge list of active superfruits we crafted into our products, read on, it's pretty cool:
Deep-Seated Rejuvenation of the Skin: In order to maintain the skin in a healthy condition, cutaneous tissue is being continuously regenerated. This regenerative capacity relies on adult stem cells in the skin. While considerable research has been done on epidermal stem cells, dermal stem cells were identified only in 2009. The dermis is the middle layer of the skin and gives it tensile strength and elasticity, therefore it is also the site where wrinkles originate.
PhytoCellTec™ Argan was developed to improve the regenerative capacity of dermal stem cells thereby achieving deep-seated rejuvenation of the skin.
PhytoCellTec™ Argan is a powder based on stem cells of the argan tree, one of the oldest tree species in the world. In order to evaluate which active ingredient effectivelypromotes dermal stem cell activity, a stable human dermal papilla cell line was used as a new test system: stem cell activity is assessed based on the expression of the Sox2 gene, which is an established stem cell marker. Furthermore, the characteristic property of stem cells to grow in three-dimensional spherical colonies serves as a second observable indicator of stem cell viability in this assay.
Clinical studies performed on healthy volunteers showed that PhytoCellTec™ Argan:
• effectively stimulates the regeneration of dermal connective tissue, thereby increasing skin density
• helps the skin to regain its firmness
• significantly reduces wrinkle depth in crow’s feet area.
PhytoCellTec™ Argan is the very first active ingredient that is capable of both protecting and vitalizing human dermal stem cells. This will not only help to accelerate the skin’s natural repair process but also fights skin aging right at the root. Here are some of the amazing benefits:
• Vitalizes and protects dermal stem cells• Reduces wrinkles • Tightens and tones skin tissues • Increases skin firmness and density • Deep-seated rejuvenation of the skin •First cosmetic active with proven results for protecting and vitalizing dermal stem cells
A big thank you to Dr. Q and Shtrands for always providing great content about ingredients for our customers to read and by the way, if you are looking for great professional hair advice online and great products that match your specific hair type and needs, you should check out Shtrands at: www.shtrands.com