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Science, R&D

Skin and barrier function: What are the advances in science?

Organized by the Société française de cosmétologie (SFC), the last edition of the Jean Paul Marty Days (5 & 6 December 2017) brought together 250 participants to attend some 30 conferences focused on the skin and the barrier function. University and industry players shared their work on this vast subject, which had some points in common with the themes addressed in 2016 and 2015, namely pollution and the microbiota.

Like highlighted Dr. Michel Simon (Inserm, Toulouse) “the epidermis is a vital multifunctional barrier between the body and the external environment. The stratum corneum, which is its ultimate layer, provides the skin with essential features.” Mechanical resistance, photo protection, antimicrobial defences, antioxidant defences, the waterproof effect all ensure a balance which, when altered, leads to important skin conditions. The molecular mechanisms associated with the barrier function are not all understood, but ongoing research on this subject constantly enriches scientific knowledge. Dr. Michel Simon insisted on the importance of the MAF/MAFB transcription factors in controlling the huge number of genes and proteins involved in the epidermal differentiation process.

Corinne Leprince (Inserm, Toulouse), who has focused her research work on lamellar bodies and in particular some specific proteins, the Rab GTPases, demonstrated that the silence of one of them - the RAB11A - causes structural defects and an imperfect barrier function. The importance of the lipid organization in the stratum corneum was recalled by Professor Joke Bouwstra (Leiden University).

Other subjects dealt with the energy, immunological or sensory aspects associated with the barrier function. Prof. Loïc Briand (INRA, Lyon) chose to broadened the debate by presenting the most recent findings on taste receptors located in keratinocytes. Dr. Nathalie Broussard complemented the picture by sharing the work of Prof. Denda Shiseido who refers to the epidermis as a “third brain”.

On the sidelines of the congress, the SFC awarded, as in previous years, the Young Researcher’s Award to two doctoral students. Fatima Alsamad (University of Reims) was rewarded for the development of a method of detection and quantification of cutaneous AGEs by means of vibrational imaging. Nils Petitdidier (CEA-LETI, Grenoble) shared the award for his work on an imaging system for the analysis of layered tissue by diffuse reflectance.

The congress was also an opportunity to recall the existence of the scientific database Kosmet with a free access for SFC members and which was upgraded thanks to the contribution of the Greentech and Péchoin Companies.

Next year, the Jean Paul Marty Days will address the theme “Peaux et annexes kératiniques du monde” (skins and keratin appendices in the World).

Régine Frick

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