If there is one thing about aging research that is almost sure to grab public attention, it is something that has a visible effect. A new product on the market that claims to reduce senescent cells in aged skin could achieve that, assuming that the pending human study is successful.
OneSkin recently released OS-01, a cosmetic skin care product that claims to reduce the activity of senescent cells according to typical cellular senescence biomarkers, such as p16 expression and senescence-associated β-galactosidase.
We would normally be skeptical about such an “anti-aging” product, given that the marketplace is filled with hucksters, grifters, and people looking to make a quick buck from people lacking the scientific knowledge to spot a scam. However, the data presented in this preprint paper from the researchers behind OneSkin is, if nothing else, worth taking a look at.
The compound of interest in OS-01 is peptide 14, which may or may not have senolytic properties. The data presented in the preprint is suggestive of the compound being a senomorphic, meaning that it inhibits or otherwise changes senescent cell secretions, rather than it being an outright senolytic.
Of note, the researchers compared their peptide with rapamycin and noted that peptide 14 promoted the maintenance of the overall structure in their 3D skin models, while rapamycin caused a detrimental effect in overall skin structure, including a thinner and more disorganized epidermis. Rapamycin has a known delaying effect on skin cell senescence and so makes for a good comparison.
It may be the case that the peptide could be somehow preventing some cells from becoming senescent or at least delaying them long enough for the body to partially clear the senescent cell backlog.
Skin aging has been primarily related to aesthetics and beauty. Therefore, interventions have focused on reestablishing skin appearance, but not necessarily skin health, function, and resilience. Recently, cellular senescence was shown to play a role in age-related skin function deterioration and influence organismal health and, potentially, longevity. In the present study, a two-step screening was performed to identify peptides capable of reducing cellular senescence in human dermal fibroblasts (HDF) from Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria (HGPS) patients. From the top four peptides of the first round of screening, we built a 764-peptide library using amino acid scanning, of which the second screen led to the identification of peptide 14. Peptide 14 effectively decreased HDF senescence induced by HGPS, chronological aging, ultraviolet-B radiation, and etoposide treatment, without inducing significant cell death, and likely by modulating longevity and senescence pathways. We further validated the effectiveness of peptide 14 using human skin equivalents and skin biopsies, where peptide 14 promoted skin health and reduced senescent cell markers, as well as the biological age of samples, according to the Skin-Specific DNA methylation clock, MolClock. Topical application of peptide 14 outperformed Retinol treatment, the current gold-standard in “anti-aging” skin care. Finally, we determined that peptide 14 is safe for long-term applications and also significantly extends both the lifespan and healthspan of C. elegans worms tested in two independent testings. This highlights the potential for geroprotective applications of the senotherapeutic compounds identified using our screening platform beyond the skin.
How useful this product is remains to be seen, given that there is no published data for its effects in humans. Launching a product prior to conducting a detailed human study that shows efficacy is typical of the cosmetics and supplements industries, and we would urge caution here as with any product.
While there is apparently a pending human study in the works, anyone jumping on the bandwagon now is entering largely uncharted territory. Unless you have plenty of money and are willing to develop a science-based approach to taking and quantifying supplements, it would be prudent to wait for the human study data to arrive.
That said, the researchers behind this seem sincere, and if efficacy in a human study can be demonstrated and skin aging visibly delayed or even reversed, it could encourage increased public interest.