SYDNEY SCIENTISTS DEVELOP COMPOUND THAT FAST TRACKS WOUND HEALING, REDUCES DNA DAMAGE THAT CAN LEAD TO SKIN CANCER, AND NEUTRALISES INFLAMMATION
Sydney, Jan 6 2021
Sydney scientists have released new research of a compound, containing highly active copper, that prevents the build-up of free radicals that cause skin damage and even the DNA damage that leads to skin cancer and photo-aging.
When tested on human skin in the laboratory, the compound – called RM191A - significantly inhibits UV-induced (sun) DNA damage in both the epidermis and dermis. And in tests of skin injury – the gel improved wound healing, reducing time from 23 days to 10-12 days. Multiple tests showed the compound dramatically reduced inflammation by 75% and works by neutralising free radicals and inflammatory signalling.
According to the research, the compound, which has been developed into a topical gel, also reduces by 50%, mast cells, which are a key indicator of aging.
Scientists from the Australian Centre for Nanomedicine and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science (CBNS) as well as the Universities of NSW and Sydney and Macquarie University worked with the Sydney-based biotech company, RR MedSciences who developed the novel compound, to determine how well a topical gel containing this chemical compound protects the skin in both humans and mice.
Professor Palli Thordarson, from CBNS and who is also a Scientific Advisor to RR MedSciences, says the compound’s capacity to heal wounds, reduce inflammation and free radical damage, “was quite extraordinary.” These results were published recently in the journal, Redox Biology.
Skin is impacted by factors like ultraviolet (UV) radiation, environmental pollutants, aging, wounds, chronic inflammation and inflammatory skin diseases, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis or skin cancers.
According to Professor Thordarson, oxidative stress, which compromises proper skin integrity, is one of the most common features among these various risk factors. Importantly, he adds, oxidative stress and inflammation are closely interconnected in the development of skin diseases.
“So, if there is a goal in developing a therapy for skin to prevent disease it is to inhibit oxidative stress to maintain normal skin function,” Prof Thordarson said.
It is known that a group of enzymes called superoxide dismutases (SODs) contribute significantly to the prevention of the build up of free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress in the skin. Innate SODs have been reported to be protective against many skin disorders by blocking the activity of free radicals which are formed following UV exposure and other traumas, and have the potential to damage our DNA. Such DNA damage has been shown to be a major contributing factor to skin carcinogenesis.
However, there have been barriers to the use of SOD in topical skin therapies – mainly because the enzyme molecule cannot pass through the skin and is inherently unstable, according to Llewellyn Casbolt, Chief Scientist and Co-founder of RR MedSciences. “We wanted to produce a compound that is easily absorbed through the skin and is stable in formulation, that mimics SOD's free-radical quenching activity,” Casbolt said.
As a result of classic scientific discovery, researchers at RR MedSciences created this compound, built around highly active copper molecules, that mimics the activity of SOD, while overcoming all of the barriers associated with SOD. “What our newly published research has shown is that RM191A mimics and indeed outperforms the body’s innate SOD to reduce free radicals and acts to significantly reduce inflammation and improve wound healing,” Casbolt noted.
The gel is currently in Phase 2 trials of patients with Chronic Neuropathic pain at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney and partners are being sought to take the topical skin gel to trials for its UV and DNA protective skin qualities. RR MedSciences is also pursuing medical trials of the compound’s anti-inflammatory and healing properties.