In l992 a fortunate group of voluntary male subjects in a Welsh village participating in a test for angina medicine encountered a beneficial surprise for themselves and their wives. An angina medication would have been profitable, but the accidentally resulting Viagra — well, don’t you wish you had a big piece of that action.
Likewise, Avon’s Skin-So-Soft was headed for a tidy little profit as a moisturizing lotion before it was discovering that Skin-So-Soft was the most effective non-DEET (carcinogenic) mosquito repellent in existence. Every year 3 million people die of malaria and 700 million are afflicted with mosquito-borne diseases. The cream became a benefit both for humankind and company, beyond everyone’s wildest expectations.
Over at Dynamis Therapeutics (www.dynamis-therapeutics.com) in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, it appears serendipity may have struck again. The process of searching for a diabetes treatment appears to have to led to a very profitable Meg 21 skin cream that might have pleased even Ponce De Leon. At the Bioscience Collaborative’s upcoming seminar, “The Intersection of Diabetes and Dermis,” biochemist Alice Marcy, Dynamis Therapeutics’ scientific operating officer, will explain how this fortune befell and how the fight against diabetesgoes. This seminar will be held on Friday, January 23, at 11 a.m. at the Economic Development Authority Commercialization Center, North Brunswick. Cost: $20. Visit www.biosciencecollaborative.com.
Marcy’s involvement with human healing was nurtured early on. The daughter of a physician father and nurse mother, Marcy grew up in Wayne and Westfield, and attended Rutgers, earning her bachelor’s in zoology. She then earned her doctorate in biochemistry at Johns Hopkins University and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. Returning to New Jersey, Marcy took a position with Merck & Co. evaluating various license agreements.
Marcy had heard of Dynamis Therapeutics first in 1997, when Philadelphia’s Fox Chase Cancer Center partnered with the Ben Franklin Technology Center to form the company. Their mission was to develop pharmaceuticals for the treatment of various diabetes complications. Marcy herself joined the firm four years ago to trace the diabetes destruction at a molecular level. Then, in 2006, researchers discovered Meg 21 — a combination of natural amino acids and a sugar substitute that had a visible effects on wrinkles and skin aging.
The company quickly formed its Dynamis Skin Science Division and marketed the wonder cream Meg 21. Today hundreds of stores and spas throughout 40 states are selling the face treatment, advanced formula, and hand treatment. Spas and health centers are selling this over-the counter treatment to clients. Dynamis is profiting very well, thank you, and meanwhile helping to fund the diabetes research going on at Fox Chase.
“What we’ve got around here at Dynamis,” laughs Marcy, “is a bunch of very young-looking researchers all working on diabetes treatments.”
Diabetes research. While the distance between discovery sought vs. the discovery found may seem great, the skin as the body’s largest organ provides a lot of latitude, explains Marcy. Diabetes results from abnormal glucose levels in the blood. This may be caused by the body’s inability to create glucose-controlling insulin or the an excessive intake of glucose through food. Either way several metabolic disorders may occur, including excessive urination, poor circulation, blindness, inability to blood clot, and several skin problems.
Seeking to trace the disease from its source, Dynamis scientists examined reactions from the body’s initial intake of sugar. Any ingested sugars that turn to glucose in your body, will naturally hit the blood stream and by a cross-linking method called “glycation,” attach to certain proteins. This naturally occurring process takes place in the dermis — that secondary layer of skin beneath the outer epidermis, which is also home to hair follicles and the like.
As this bonding of proteins and sugars takes place, a toxic molecule 3DG (3-deoxyglucosone) is produced. This vicious little molecule inflames the skin and all it touches. It literally oxidizes the lipids, essential in all cells, and triggers the host of diabetes symptoms. Marcy and her team sought to mediate this reaction by finding an enzyme that would inhibit its creation. On the way, they stumbled over Meg 21.
Sugar to skin. Aging is simply nature’s way of letting you fall apart. Even if you only eat tofu and shredded cardboard, your body will take in some glucose and some amounts of glycation will occur. When it does 3DG works its destructive magic on the dermis as well. Even without diabetic levels of glucose, 3DG attacks the two basic elements of the dermis: collagen and elasticum, making them stiff and brittle. Skin begins to sag, crack, and with time you no longer resemble your high school prom picture.
By applying Meg 21’s active, trademarked ingredient Supplamine, the enzymatic production of 3DG becomes inhibited. Through a complex reaction, 3DG becomes encased in this amino sugar and amino acid compound and is thus nullified.
Once again, chemistry comes to the rescue of will power, and vanity energizes true research. With enough Meg 21 treatments, Americans can keep on shoveling down the refined sugar and still look young. And if we all purchase enough of the cream, we might even fund a way to repair the damage this sugar does to our bodies. As a modest proposal, of course, we might practice some culinary restraint and eschew our youth fetish.
Either way, Meg 21 provides a powerful reason to keep on funding low-profit research. You just never know.