Míage Skincare, a transformative new luxury skincare line blending waterless micro-molecule formulas and isotonic nutrient blends, today announced the official launch of its first product. Bloom La Milpa Lip Treatment is an intensely healing conditioning gloss and overnight lip mask consciously crafted to celebrate lips of all shapes, sizes, and ages. In kissing goodbye to water, Bloom delivers a rich and deeply nourishing formula designed to conjure petal soft lips with a healthy natural glow.
“We are extremely excited to introduce the public to Míage for the very first time, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Bloom is the perfect way to show your kisser some serious self-love,” says Shirly Zeng, general manager of Míage. “Our scientists have spent years developing this healing waterless lip treatment and it shows. From the moment you sweep it on your lips, you can feel them being softened, soothed, and hydrated.”
Bloom has a light-reflecting delicate pink tint and slight shimmer that makes lips look instantly healthier and more supple. It can be worn alone for a natural glow or layered over a favorite lip color for prismatic shine and moisture. Additionally, Bloom can be used as an intensive overnight lip treatment that will facilitate deep healing and repair after neglect and/or exposure to environmental stressors.
For a limited time, Míage is offering 10% off of Bloom when you sign up for the My Míage loyalty program. To learn more or purchase Bloom now, visit www.miageskin.com.
Follow Míage on Instagram now at @miage_skincare
Look on the past with gratitude, but never with longing… Míage introduces a modern category of transformative skincare designed to ascend beyond “anti-aging,” and instead, asks consumers to be present. Not only modern in its philosophy, but also its science, Míage reveals waterless nutrient formulas made to work in osmosis and harmony with skin at every stage of life. A proprietary isotonic La Milpa Cactus Solution replaces the hypotonic deionized water solutions commonly used in most skincare products, allowing Míage’s rich ingredient blends to more effectively supply skin with healing nutrients, proteins, and amino acids, while manifesting a complexion that radiates luminosity, health, and complete celebration of your present beauty.
Brandon Sykes is the Chief Executive Officer of Southeastern Esthetics Institute and manages daily operations and organization for SEEI through exceptional leadership and a modern approach to academic administration. Brandon Sykes graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Healthcare Management. Sykes' background in corporate medical sales, finance, and project management is the main ingredient towards success for the students of Southeastern Esthetics Institute. Sykes has a true dedication to take SEEI to the next level in 2020. He is working towards a large expansion of SEEI in 2020-2021. Brandon Sykes' extensive background in product and project management in the corporate sector is the key to success - and has propelled Southeastern Esthetics Institute to the next level in Columbia, South Carolina. Due to Sykes' commitment to business ethics and excellence in all administrative areas, students are able to benefit from modern education and facilities - and meet their professional needs within their esthetics careers for years to come.
SERENE CBD of Serene Holdings LLC (the “Company” or “SERENE”), a premium line of CBD wellness and beauty products based in Highland Park, Illinois, has announced today that it has formed a strategic retail and marketing partnership with Creeds Collective to bring the SERENE CBD line into the highly curated CBD Beauty Corner within The Salon Project by Joel Warren on the 7th floor of Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in Manhattan. SERENE CBD, officially launched in January 2019, manufactures and sells a luxe line of proprietary formulated plant-based, organic CBD products infused with botanical oils and adaptogens. The line consists of ten unique formulations that cross over from wellness to topicals to beauty, creating a total body wellness system designed to naturally combat stress, support immune function, detox, control anxiety and reduce pain and inflammation. SERENE’s mission is to help you find your “serene space” by bringing you back to your physical and mental “middle,” wherever that may be. SERENE, recently featured in Forbes.com this past July, was a showcase brand at the Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference in New York on 10/22, a semi-private event attended by Cannabis and CBD industry leads, media, retailers and investors. Other showcase brands included Saint Jane, Bloom Farms, Kiskanu, Fog & Tree, Black Dahlia and more. At the LMCC showcase SERENE unveiled four new products including their forthcoming (Jan 2020) Rosé Champagne Gumdrops, Release Me Body Serum and advanced cannabinoid products SERENE Dream CBN sleep tincture and Inflame-Away CBG inflammation control tincture. Coming off the LMCC show, SERENE felt the timing was right to begin their push into third party retailers, kicking off a partnership with the CBD Beauty Corner at The Salon Project by Joel Warren. Starting the week of Black Friday, SERENE will place their Rose Face Serum, Release Me Body Serum, Dead Sea Bath Salts and the Inflame-Away CBG tincture in the store. “Our business to date has mostly been focused on direct to consumer internet sales channel but with the release of these new flagship products we felt the timing was right to make our push into retail,” stated SERENE founder Erica Valker. “We’d been in conversations with the Evie Phillips and the Creeds Collective team over the past six months about joining their collection at the CBD Beauty Corner - we absolutely love the concept they have created and the great brands they have meticulously curated for the experience. It's the perfect fit for the SERENE brand and we feel that we can nicely complement and differentiate their assortment with our CBD Face and Body Serums, Dead Sea Bath Salts and our CBD + CBG anti-inflammation tincture.”
“The CBD Beauty Corner is a labor of love and a conscious movement of advocacy in beauty and wellness by our team. We excel at elevating traditional retail and salon experiences, so with Joel and The Salon Project’s innovation in the luxury salon space it was an obvious partnership. We pride ourselves on curating leading brands in the industry as well as discovering and launching the unique and emerging, SERENE is a great addition to our merchandise mix. Its imperative that we provide superior products and simplified education about the massive benefits of hemp and cannabis. People are still very confused, CBD doesn’t get you high it gets you healthy, inside and out. We are excited to continue building our story out with SERENE and team.” Founder of Creeds Collective and the CBD Beauty Corner, Evie Phillips. The company’s founder, Erica Valker, had started a cannabis venture in 2011 in California where she then suddenly became very ill with late stage chronic Lyme disease that went undetected for years. Erica would struggle with the disease for several years, including daily battles with severe pain, seizures and complete disability before finding success with medical cannabis & CBD treatments, which she now credits for helping to save her life.
To give back, SERENE CBD has partnered with The LymeLight Foundation ofBurlingame California, a non-profit that awards medical grants to families with eligible children and young adults who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease but struggle to afford proper treatment. SERENE donates $3 from every online purchase of their Oral Tincture product to the LymeLight Foundation.
About the CBD Beauty Corner
Launched in May of 2019 the CBD Beauty Corner features multiple emerging and established brands that possess a collective aesthetic and highlight the benefits of a beauty and wellness regimen seeded in canna and hemp love and education. Our goal is to share the natural and holistic wellness and beauty benefits of cannabinoids, specifically CBD. Our in corner experience is catered to our clients needs, making sure that our CBD Savants address all consumers questions of curiosity and find the perfect products to relieve skin, pain issues, anxiety, insomnia and the list goes on. We curated and carry the best in CBD beauty and wellness from skincare, to topicals, tinctures, and edibles. The CBD Beauty Corner is Located within The Salon Project by Joel Warren on the 7th floor of Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC.
About Creeds Collective
Creeds Collective is a women founded creative social media and influencer tech agency based out of New York with offices in LA, Hawaii and Italy. Creeds help brands, agencies, and influencers optimize their identities. By dissecting the psychology of buying behavior and eclectic nuances of culture to drive brand awareness and sales through strategic social media, influencer marketing, content creation and experiential marketing.
About SERENE CBD:
SERENE CBD (Serene Holdings, LLC) is based in Highland Park IL and was founded in 2018 by Erica Valker. Their mission is to create the highest quality CBD wellness and beauty products that improve lives by helping people achieve total body wellness. SERENE blends therapy with clean beauty with premium CBD products and ingredients that are 100% plant-based, all organic and have zero allergens. Formulations center on blending advanced cannabinoids CBD, CBG and CBN with custom terpenes and essential oils that have been used for thousands of years for physical, mental and emotional healing, delivering true plant-based therapy. SERENE products include a CBD Oral Tincture, SERENE Dream CBN sleep tincture, Inflame-Away CBG tincture, CBD + Rose Face Serum, Arnica Relief Cream, Ultra Healing Lip Balm, Dead Sea Bath Salts and Pet CBD + Salmon Oil. SERENE sources their Cannabinoid extracts only from organic California and Oregon hemp farmers and lab tests to ensure products are free of pesticides, mold, bacteria or man made chemicals. SERENE products will be featured in the gifting suite at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards and will be included in the Gift Bags for all nominees.
For further information contact:
Serene Holdings, LLC
Erica Valker - Owner
We made DERMASCOPE Magazine’s the A-List! Thank you for believing in our company’s mission and helping us thrive. Staffed by estheticians, FOR estheticians. You can see the full article on Dasha Saian on page 92 of the September issue of DERMASCOPE . Here is an excerpt:
In 2007, Dasha Saian, L.E., CEO and co-founder of Saian Natural Clinical Skincare, and her mother Margarita started a skin care brand out of their kitchen with only $3,000. At that time, Dasha was finishing college, working at a spa as a receptionist, and going to beauty school for her aesthetics license. The first couple of years were tough – they were operating out of their two-bedroom apartment, which meant living with boxes everywhere. Their social life was virtually non-existent and it was impossible to have company over because the number of boxes was overwhelming. They used to sit and fill bottles with serums and creams all evening and stick labels on them, so that they could drive to San Diego at 5:00 A.M. to teach a class at a beauty school at 8:00 A.M. and hopefully sell something.
Fast forward to 2013, their business was thriving – new products, automation, staff, and an office. One April day, Margarita lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital. A day later, she was diagnosed with grade four glioblastoma – a malignant tumor the size of a baseball in her brain. The business was put on the backburner for two and a half years, as Dasha stayed home to take care of her mother and 86-year-old grandmother. In the process of learning about her mother’s illness, Dasha became an expert on oncology care.
After her mother passed, Dasha found herself absolutely engulfed in work – it was her happy place. Surprisingly, as she relaxed about making more money and focused on providing a better value for the customers, everything fell into place and Saian Natural Clinical Skincare started picking up. Her mother’s legacy of integrity and commitment to clients was what kept the company culture and values alive after she passed. Anyone who has ever taken a class with Margarita would tell you she had a way of making one feel special, but most importantly, she shared all of her knowledge
Powerful Study + Video Challenge Everyone to Redefine Beauty
Lycored, industry leaders at the forefront of the ingestible skincare market, recently launched a video to support their latest body of skin health research.
As an extension of their #rethinkbeautiful campaign, the video seeks to change how people define and see beauty in themselves, drawing on their own experiences instead of glossy images. The video goes beyond “skin deep” and invites you to join them in changing the conversation, breaking beauty out of its proverbial box.
The moving narrative in the "Let Us Illuminate You" video supports the findings of their 149-person study, which uncovered how the LycodermTM tomato nutrient complex nourishes our bodies and skin with carotenoids. Within the personal and intimate video, subjects’ reactions are captured as they view before and after photos of themselves for the first time following the study.
Skin care professionals have been the unsung heroes in the beauty industry for years. They work tirelessly to help others achieve the complexion of their dreams. That’s why COSMEDIX established National Aesthetician Month and National Aesthetician Day, October 15th, to praise skincare professionals who expertly transform and protect the body’s largest organ—the skin. Performing treatments anywhere from chemical peels, blemish extractions, at-home regimens and facials, aestheticians help guide their clients to a place of self-confidence that is more than just skin-deep. In an effort to celebrate these individuals, COSMEDIX hosted an online contest and sweepstakes where clients, friends and family were invited to nominate their favorite aestheticians. The winning aestheticians were awarded a luxe customized crystal award, while winning nominators received $300 worth of COSMEDIX products. COSMEDIX announced the following aesthetician winners on their Instagram account @cosmedix_ earlier today.
COSMEDIX Account Executives each nominated their choice for COSMEDIX Aesthetician of the year. These aestheticians also received a luxe customized crystal award and certificate to congratulate them for all their hard work and dedication to their clients.
“National Aesthetician Month is one of the most exciting times of the year for us,” says Ryan Christopher, Global Director of Education at COSMEDIX. “We get to reward our amazing aestheticians for all of the hard work and dedication to their clients. This contest really allowed us to showcase that beautiful relationship and gave aestheticians the chance to receive the recognition they deserve. Whether it’s a teenager looking to get rid of pesky blemishes or an adult looking to reverse visible signs of aging, skin care professionals truly restore confidence through their diligent work—this contest was designed to spotlight just that.”
In honor of National Aesthetician Month, COSMEDIX recently launched Serenity and Recovery, two new CBD products part of their Body by COSMEDIX line. Serenity CBD Targeted Relief Rollerball is packed with skin-nourishing oils and Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Oil, rich in CBD to help sooth dry skin and improve skin comfort. Recovery Face & Body CBD Lotion is formulated with skin-nourishing aloe and a blend of 11 amino acids for maximum skin relief, also infused with Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Oil to further aid in soothing dry, uncomfortable skin.
“To kick off our National Aesthetician Month celebration, we’re excited to release our CBD line that both skin care professionals and our consumers can use in their everyday routine,” says Christine Jackson, Global Director of COSMEDIX. “The creation of Serenity and Recovery supports our constant focus on both physical and mental wellness.”
With an expansive product mix and supercharged spa offerings, COSMEDIX offers clean, clinical and luxurious skin care products to the conscious consumer looking for a healthy approach to skin care. The full-spectrum product line consists of facials, treatments, metabolic peels and at-home regimens that promote rapid change in the skin without prolonged healing or extensive downtime. For more information on COSMEDIX and the recent CBD launch, visit http://www.cosmedix.com.
COSMEDIX, a trailblazer in clean, clinical and luxurious skin care, today announces the release of their new CBD product offerings—Serenity Targeted Relief Rollerball and Recovery Face & Body CBD Lotion—part of their Body by COSMEDIX line. Serenity Targeted Relief Rollerball is infused with skin-loving ingredients like cannabis sativa oil (CBD) and vitamin E to help soothe dry skin and alleviate discomfort on the body. Recovery Face & Body CBD Lotion, formulated with skin-nourishing ingredients like CBD, five hydrating peptides and 11 amino acids, intensely hydrates as it reduces the look of redness and soothes the skin for a glowing, calm-looking complexion. In honor of National Aesthetician Month and National Aesthetician Day, October 15th, COSMEDIX is excited to release this duo to bolster spa offerings while continuing to bring their customers the latest and greatest in skin care technology. After a successful launch with the spas, CBD is now available to consumers online at cosmedix.com.
“We like to preview the majority of our new launches in the spa for our aestheticians to get the first look,” says Christine Jackson, Global Director of COSMEDIX. “Our CBD launch was a huge hit in our spas, and it gave them the opportunity to have a unique new offering. We’re excited to now extend these products to our consumers online.”
Curated by an elite team of chemists, the CBD products in COSMEDIX’s Body line feature organic, full-spectrum cannabis sativa oil cultivated in U.S. farms for the ultimate potency and purity.
“We formulated this CBD duo to coincide with our focus on overall health and wellness,” said Kristy DuMouchel, Director of Product Development at COSMEDIX. “The formulas of Serenity and Recovery contain ingredients that promote a sense of relaxation and work to deeply hydrate and nourish the skin—perfect as we head into the winter months.”
In support of the brand’s ceaseless focus on overall health and wellness, COSMEDIX has partnered Mental Health America—a community that provides information and support to those whose lives have been impacted by metal illness—for the launch of Serenity and Recovery. A portion of Serenity and Recovery sales during the month of October will go towards Mental Health America’s mission.
Serenity and Recovery are now available for purchase online at cosmedix.com.
Bellus Academy owner Lynelle Lynch has been elected to the 2019-2020 International Spa Association (ISPA) board of directors. Lynch’s election to the board was announced during the 2019 ISPA Conference & Expo, September 10 to 13 at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Lynch brings to her role a fierce commitment to professional beauty and wellness education and a vision for uniting the industry to increase the number of qualified spa professionals. As owner of Bellus Academy, she leads one of the nation’s most innovative and influential aesthetic programs. Bellus Academy is the first school in North America to offer the prestigious CIDESO Skincare Certificate and the first school to offer the Wellness for Cancer training program.
Lynch also serves as president of Beauty Changes Lives, a non-profit uniting the industry to equip and empower the next generation of beauty and wellness professionals. In partnership with leading beauty brands, Beauty Changes Lives recently launched the hyper-targeted Make Your Mark campaign, raising awareness of the pathways and possibilities available to licensed professionals beauty and wellness professionals.
Lynch is a frequent panelist and speaker at global beauty and wellness events. She recently served on a panel at the CosmoProf Worldwide in Bologna, Italy, exploring the factors driving beauty and wellness education.
“Advancements in technology, the surge in men’s grooming, and a renewed focus on the synergy that exists between health and wellness make now a very exciting time to be part of the professional spa industry,” says Lynch. “I am honored to join the ISPA board as we share a commitment to move the professional spa sector forward with initiatives that advance and celebrate excellence across the spa profession.”
Bioelements is excited to announce their new national sales director, Kelly Melvin.
Melvin brings more than two decades of experience in the consumer goods industry to her new role at Bioelements. She got her start working as an account representative for companies including Warner Lambert (now Pfizer) and Kraft but chose to make a career shift in pursuit of her enthusiasm for beauty and wellness. Melvin then entered and excelled in the professional beauty space, with roles in business development at L’Oréal Professional for nearly seven years and, most recently, directing sales at Alterna Haircare for the last five years. In this new role, Melvin will be responsible for defining the direct and distributor sales infrastructure for Bioelements and will work across departments to increase Bioelements’ sales pipeline.
Melvin’s background highlights her exceptional leadership in the field of consumer sales and her ability to strengthen existing relationships, as well as strategically identify new partnerships. Skin care is her ultimate passion, and she emphasizes that she will not sell a product she does not believe in.
“It’s important for me to know that the brand I am representing has integrity and that the products perform as promised. I’ve been a huge fan of the brand for years, so when the opportunity presented itself to work with Bioelements, I jumped on it,” shares Melvin. “I’m excited to combine my love for the professional beauty industry and to represent a brand as innovative and well-respected as Bioelements.”
Bioelements is excited to announce their new e-commerce and web content manager, Jenny Almandarz.
Almandarz comes to the Bioelements team with extensive experience in digital marketing across channels. Her expertise is in data analysis and using that data to develop digital marketing strategy. She also has hands-on experience managing e-commerce stores, building e-mail marketing programs, and crafting paid ads, in addition to her success with search engine optimization and web content development. Her experience in the luxury brand space has allowed her to excel at implementing programs that resonate with customers across both B2B and B2C channels.
A Chicago native, Almandarz has a master’s degree in psychology and uses that background to influence and connect with a variety of audiences. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge with her colleagues and contributing to a positive workplace culture.
“Bioelements is an impressive brand, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to share my talents with this team,” says Almandarz. “The culture at Bioelements is truly collaborative, and I already feel like I’m making a positive difference. I look forward to helping Bioelements continue to grow and thrive, while also growing professionally.”
Burt’s Bees, a pioneer in natural skin care, announced research supporting the role of efficacy-first natural regimens to defend, restore, and improve skin health. The studies will be presented at the second annual Integrative Dermatology Symposium (IDS) in San Diego, California, October 3 to 5, 2019.
These latest research findings from Burt’s Bees highlight:
“At Burt’s Bees, we are committed to harnessing the proven power of nature-based ingredients,” said Hemali Gunt, Ph.D., head of clinical and scientific affairs at Burt’s Bees. “Notably, research announced provides valuable insight into the effectiveness of natural retinol alternative, bakuchiol, which has been shown to be comparable to retinol in its ability to improve signs of photoaging. The powerful antiaging properties of this ingredient provide patients with a natural option to nurture strong and healthy-looking skin, without the frequent irritation that some patients experience with retinol products.”
The effectiveness of bakuchiol, a natural alternative to retinol, was evaluated in vitro on production of procollagen I in an aged fibroblast model. In addition, protection against UVB- induced aging was studied on collagen and elastin. Overall, results demonstrated antiaging properties of bakuchiol and support its use in topical treatments as a natural alternative to retinol in preventing or slowing skin aging.
These in vitro studies found that cells treated with test material exhibited higher procollagen type I production than untreated cells. Additionally, significant collagen type I and elastin increases were observed in post UVB treated tissues similar to retinoic acid.
Clinical results from nature-based skin care regimens demonstrate the protective properties of the products to reduce the negative impact of environment on skin, including redness and sun damage, while strengthening the skin’s barrier and providing hydration for overall healthier skin.
In a four-week clinical study, female subjects with sensitive skin were given a twice-daily skin care regimen; the test group was given a nature-based regimen and the control group continued a current synthetic regimen. Results demonstrated that the nature-based skin care regimen significantly reduced skin reactivity to lactic acid, decreased sensorial symptoms of skin sensitivity, improved the skin barrier through decreased transepidermal water loss, and significantly decreased carbonyl proteins, an indicator of oxidative damage.
A second eight-week clinical study measured the ability of nature-based facial oil to decrease oxidative stress. Results indicated the oil protected against ultraviolet-induced inflammation and decreased sunburn cell counts on the treated site.
“Patients today know that both natural and man-made environmental factors can threaten their skin, but many don’t realize that nature can be equally powerful to protect and nurture the skin,” said Vivian Shi, MD, University of Arizona College of Medicine and study investigator. “Backed by proven science, nature-based skin care regimens have the ability to reinforce the skin’s epidermal barrier, improve skin hydration and elasticity, and protect against oxidative stress.”
Unlike other skin, there has been little research on the biophysical properties and molecular composition of the lips, despite lips serving as a key visible marker of aging.
In a first-of-its-kind in vivo study, the structure of healthy female lips was examined to better understand water content and other barrier-relevant components. Water content was lowest on the surface but gradually increased when reaching the stratum granulosum border, continuing to increase at great depths.
A second two-week clinical study assessed the effects of a nature-based lip treatment at day three, week one, and week two. Results showed that all clinical-grading parameters studied (roughness and texture, fine and dry lines, fullness and plumpness, contour and definition, and overall lip condition) were significantly improved.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, one of Texas’ leading resorts located right outside Austin, has promoted Adrienne Willis to director of spa. Willis previously served as assistant director of spa at the resort.
“We are thrilled to announce Adrienne as the new director of Spa Django,” said Dave Jacobs, general manager at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa. “Adrienne exudes an attitude of care and attentiveness towards our guests, and she is a great leader for her colleagues and team members. We can’t wait to see her plans for Spa Django, come to life in her new role.”
As spa director, Willis will oversee the operation of Spa Django, including inventory management, the development of treatment and service offerings, and providing support and direction to her team of more than 50 employees.
“I’m very excited for my new role at Spa Django,” said Willis. “Having worked with the Spa Django team for many years now, I am honored and humbled to serve as the director of such an exceptional group of people who I am proud to call my colleagues. In this new position, I look forward to further expanding our services with the latest and greatest products available, while finding more ways to incorporate wellness into the resort experience.”
Willis began her career working as an intern in the human resources department at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines in 2010. Having a passion for working in salons and previous experience working in cosmetology, Willis transferred to the resort’s Spa Django where she served as spa coordinator later that year.
Following her time as spa coordinator at Spa Django, Willis worked in the spas at multiple Hyatt properties including Hyatt Regency Monterey Resort & Spa in California and Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa in Hawaii.
Willis received her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Texas State University in 2008. She has received numerous recognitions throughout her career including Hyatt Regency Lost Pines’ Leader of the Fourth Quarter in 2016.
Nestled among 405 acres of the lush scenery of central Texas, Spa Django is a full-service spa featuring 18 individual treatment rooms. The spa provides a robust menu of signature treatment options, ranging from the Django massage and a Colorado River Rock massage to body rituals including the popular Lost Pines lavender wrap and herb garden salt glow. Guests can relax in the spa’s world-class facilities which include an outdoor heated pool, relaxation rooms, dry saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, and whirlpools.
Malignant melanoma, also known as black skin cancer, is one of the most dangerous types of cancer. Although it accounts for only four percent of all skin cancers, it is responsible for nearly 80% of skin cancer deaths. If detected early, the tumor can be treated well, but as soon as the cancer has metastasized, it spreads aggressively, and the chances of cure drop rapidly. This is also due to the fact that there are hardly any effective long-term treatment options.
Traditional Chinese medicine knows a promising candidate for active substances against malignant melanoma. The researchers have now been able to prove its efficacy. In an international project financed by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, the active substance was successfully tested on cancer cells and mice. In addition, the research group, headed by Rudolf Bauer and Beate Rinner, succeeded in modifying the active ingredient and further improving its efficacy. Project team member Nadine Kretschmar reports on how this was achieved.
“We started out from the question as to which plants are used in TCM as a cure for cancer-like diseases and whether an active substance for fighting cancer can be obtained from them,” explains Kretschmer. “The concept of cancer varies partly between TCM and Western medicine, which is why all remedies used in TCM against cancer and cancer-like diseases were of interest to us. In a pilot project, the group created a database with several hundred potential plants. Dried samples from a selection of 76 of these plants were used to produce 253 extracts, and these were tested on various cancer cells. The researchers identified one plant that seemed promising enough for further studies. The scientific name of the plant is onosma paniculata bureau and franch, a member of the onosma genus.
“We tested a substance called β-β-dimethylacrylshikonin, which we had obtained from the plant, directly on malignant melanoma cells and were able to prove it had an effect,” continues Kretschmer. The substance destroyed the cancer cells. These favorable results encouraged the research team to carry out the first in vivo tests. Naked mice suffering from skin cancer were treated with the drug by injecting it directly into the tumors to see if there were any side effects. “That was successful, as well; we saw no side effects and the tumors responded to the treatment and died.” The researchers observed both apoptosis, which is a controlled cell death, and necrosis, which is uncontrolled cell death.
“We then tried to modify the substance to see if we could improve its efficacy even further,” notes the researcher. Among several modifications, they found one particular shikonin derivative that proved to be particularly effective. In theory, the substance is suitable for the development of a drug, but there is still a long way to go before such a drug becomes available. “This will require larger-scale studies, and the route of administration is still an undecided issue.” Two follow-up projects are already in the pipeline.
Kretschmer emphasizes that traditional Chinese medicine served only as a source of inspiration for new active compounds. It is still unclear how exactly the plant works in traditional Chinese medicine. “There is no clear idea of how this plant develops its beneficial effect in TCM. It is uncommon in TCM to use just a single plant, normally it is a combination that can be prepared in different ways,” relates Kretschmer. The plants are usually prepared as infusions and boiled twice for a long time. “When we prepare our plant in this way, we no longer see the anti-tumor effect in the cell culture test,” explains Kretschmer. “TCM also knows another preparation method using oil, which is then applied to the affected areas of the skin. This oil contains a higher concentration of the active shikonins.”
In the course of the project, the researchers also found a way to phytochemically verify the identity of different plant species with a similar morphology. “There are roots that look very similar to those of the plant we are investigating, and we have found that these species are often sold under false names in China,” says Kretschmer. This is a problem because some of the plants offered for sale contain substances that can be harmful. Kretschmer and the research team found a method using thin-layer chromatography that helps to distinguish between the plants and is simple enough to be used in pharmacies. The research project ran for four years and was completed in early 2019. The team cooperated with the Medical University in Graz and the Helmholtz Institute in Munich, Germany.