Carrying molecules into the skin

Scientists at the CSIC are designing advanced lipid systems for skin treatments. In the last experiment, they have obtained chemical maps of skin samples, which show how the lipid molecules enter the inner skin.

 Olga López from the IQAC-CSIC examining one of the obtained spectra. Image: ALBA.When skin is affected by some disorder or disease, an accompanying symptom is the loss of the protective barrier. Therefore, skin is prone to suffer from infections or other complications. On the contrary, in normal conditions, the protective barrier of the skin offers a high level of impermeability, which in turn can be an inconvenience if the goal is to introduce beneficial molecules into the skin.  
 
Scientists at the CSIC’s Instituto de Química Avanzada de Catalunya (IQAC-CSIC) are designing advanced lipid systems for skin applications. The team, led by Olga López, a scientist at the IQAC-CSIC, have developed several aggregates of lipid molecules with “capacity to pass through the natural channels of the skin, without damaging the tissue, to interact with skin cells and to remain there”. These aggregates (or structures), explains Olga López, “have been created to treat the skin and to transport other molecules, either cosmetic or pharmacological, to the specific skin layers that need to be treated.

The scientists have obtained chemical maps of the skin, in which the penetration of molecules can be seen

To find out how these molecular aggregates penetrate the skin, the scientists have performed a 120 hours experiment in the ALBA synchrotron, in the latest beamline created in the facility, MIRAS. This beamline is devoted to infrared spectroscopy and microscopy, and it is a powerful tool for detecting and quantifying molecules and their spatial distribution.

The scientists Olga López, Estitxu Fernandez and Verónica Moner, from IQAC-CSIC, and the responsible of the beamline, Ibraheem Yousef. Image: ALBA.

In this case, the scientists have applied the lipid molecular aggregates on skin samples and, afterwards, they have analyzed transversal sections of the samples in order to see the penetration and distribution of the lipid molecules. The samples of skin were both healthy and non-healthy. They have obtained, then, chemical maps of the skin, in which the penetration of molecules can be seen.

This study will contribute to improving the treatment of skin disorders and could have applicability in the dermatological and cosmetic fields. The results will “enable finding the best aggregates to transport active molecules to the different layers of the skin, and will contribute to the development of safer and more efficient treatments”.

This Project is being developed in the frame of the Spanish National Plan of Research and Development (Plan Nacional de I+D).