New research suggests that a protein linked to the spread of several major human cancers may also hold potential for the elimination of wrinkles and the rejuvenation of skin. If this holds true, it may mean that controlling concentrations of the Receptor for Hyaluronan Mediated Motility (RHAMM) protein could one day replace surgical procedures or injections with neurotoxins that carry unpleasant side effects.
In the course of a collaborative study on the role that RHAMM plays in regulating the signaling of adipocytes (fat cells) during the repairing of tissue wounds from injuries such as skin cuts, heart attacks and stroke, Mina Bissell, a cell biologist with Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division and Eva Turley, an oncology professor at the University of Western Ontario made this discovery. The researchers found that blocking the expression of the RHAMM protein – either by deleting its gene, or through the introduction of a blocking reagent – can be used to selectively induce the generation of fat cells to replace those lost in the aging process. Additionally, blocking RHAMM expression also reduces deposits of unhealthy visceral fat.
“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.
“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,” said Turley.
The mouse studies led by Bissell and Turley showed that blocking RHAMM expression significantly increases subcutaneous fat while decreasing visceral fat, suggesting that blocking RHAMM should also have a beneficial effect on patients with obesity-related diseases, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.