We now accept that stem cells have tremendous potential in both drug discovery and development. Stem cells have the ability to generate physiologically relevant cells in virtually limitless supply. The thought of regenerating tissue or entire organs was the stuff of science fiction not long ago, but is a reality today.
What is interesting is the number of literature citations and patents in the area of stem cells and cosmetics. Cited in Cosmetics & Toiletries (January 2013), “stem cells remain one of the biggest trends in cosmetics research”. This research is directed towards providing topical products that truly alter the look, structure and functioning of the skin. The concept of “active ingredients” is commonplace in cosmetic scientific literature, as is the science of penetration of cosmetic ingredients through the stratum corneum.
The question for those in industry as well as regulators is how to think of these kinds of products; are these cosmetics or are they drugs? What constitutes adequate and sufficient safety assessment? No doubt the answer to these questions will become clearer as the science develops and the true potential of stem cells and other therapeutic technologies become assessed for cosmetic applications.