Kutanios produces a peptide-based ingredient that prevents sun damage and aging via topical application. The novel mechanism stops skin cells from degrading the surrounding collagen and promoting inflammation, common causes of sun-damage related aging. Not only does this peptide protect against sun and skin damage, but their ingredient is biodegradable and safe for the environment.
We spoke to CEO Irina Miller, Ph.D., and CSO Norman Miller, Ph.D., about the discoveries that underlie Kutanios and their vision for skincare’s future.
How did your passion for science evolve into a biotech startup?
Irina: My passion is for science. My passion is for science for medical science, for biophysics, and biochemistry, for science. I studied medicine first, and became a physician. Then my PhD courses were in the field of cardiovascular biochemistry, studying the effect of damage to vascular walls and protection from this damage.
Since then, I realized that the mechanism underlying their vascular or damaged was collagen exposure, and it’s very similar with what’s happening on the skin surface. Skin is the largest organ in the body, but the capacity of protecting itself is very limited.
We are developing science-based innovative ingredients to detoxify the skin from the harmful effects of solar radiation, tobacco smoke, pollution and other harmful chemicals.
What is the scientific basis of Kutanios’ technology?
Irina: We decided to start Kutanios, which has a totally new approach to skincare, to detoxify the skin of harmful chemicals, all causes of skin aging, dermatological conditions, including acne, and even more severe damaged skin cancers.
The idea is science based, and it’s based on 3 big discoveries of Professor Norman Miller, who discovered the role of HDL (good cholesterol) in prevention of cardiovascular disease.
His second big discovery is that a small part of HDL proteins can bind and detoxify toxic lipid peroxides which are damaging to the cells and its surroundings.
His third discovery was that the concentration of these toxic lipid peroxides in skin is much greater, more than 10 times greater compared with concentration in blood.
How do lipid peroxides affect skin health?
Norman: So the lipid peroxides that are formed in skin, by sunlight and atmospheric pollutants and tobacco smoke, have several effects on skin cells and on the proteins between the skin cells that are important in our appearance.
For example, there’s a protein in skin called collagen that is important for giving the skin strength. There’s another protein called elastin, which gives elasticity. The cells have many different functions in skin. And also the DNA is important. All of these things that I’ve mentioned can be damaged by lipid peroxides. And there’s good evidence that they all contribute to the aging process.
How do the Kutanios peptides stop lipid peroxides from damaging skin?
Norman: Our peptides enter skin, they bind these lipid peroxides, and act like magnets or sponges to sort of mop up the lipid peroxides. That prevents them from having the harmful effects on the proteins and on the cells and on the DNA.
At the same time, the the peptides stick to the surfaces of the cells. And so when the cells are lost from the skin by the normal processes, they take the peptide and the lipid peroxides with them, so very little lipid peroxide will enter the blood, most of it will be lost.
It’s a kind of a cleansing process, a detoxification process, that will protect the skin from the harmful effects of these lipid peroxides.
Why is it important to create novel skin health solutions?
Norman: The role of lipid peroxides in skin conditions has been completely neglected. It’s been known from scientific research for many years that lipid peroxides develop in the skin; it’s been known also that lipid peroxides have bad effects on cells. But nobody has brought these two together.
At the moment, in the skincare industry, there is no ingredient that specifically targets these chemicals, even though we know they’re being produced all the time, that they’re increased by sunlight–and by all sunlight, not just by ultraviolet light by all sunlight–they’re increased by tobacco smoke, and they’re increased by all common atmospheric pollutants.
We know that they’re being produced, but there is no ingredient, surprisingly, in skincare in the skincare industry at this point, which targets them. And our product will be the first one.
How do you imagine skincare and skin health products will evolve?
Irina: My envisage of the future is that application of creams will be topical and very targeted to the particular needs of every individual. And that’s what we’re aiming for.
At the moment, our ingredients, our new component, is also very targeted, and it’s targeted to specific harmful particles, which are produced in more than polluted environments. In the future we will be targeting particles and particular problems within the body, within cells.