In a speech opening this congress, which brought together a large audience at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, Professor Pierre-Henri Gouyon reminded “genes have no effect outside a given environment. Genetic information is immaterial and the effect of genes can only be seen in the environment in which they are observed”. That is what epigenetic is all about.
Gene regulators and epigenetics
Among gene regulators, microRNAs, which were discovered in nematodes in 1993, are now the subject of numerous studies. “To date, more than 2,600 microRNA sequences have been described in humans,” said Professor Jérôme Lamartine. As far as the skin is concerned, the researcher highlighted the role of Mir-203 as a transition regulator between proliferation and differentiation in the human epidermis.
Long non-coding RNAs (LncRNAs) are also of key regulators of gene expression. Recent researches by Dr. Markus Kretz of the University of Regensburg in Germany has that LncRNAs can impact the regulation of the skin homeostasis.
More concretely, according to a study conducted by Clarins, daily meteorological changes can affect the regulation of genes. "We conducted a large study about the impact of brief and repeated weather variations on differentiation and matrix remodelling of a reconstructed human skin model. The results show a significant reduction in the expression of coding genes for various collagens, laminins, proteoglycans, thus suggesting a profound remodelling of the extracellular matrix,” explained Christelle Guéré of Clarins.
Will the future of personal care be the design of personalized cosmetics based on genomic analyses?
According to Philippe Benech, from Genex, “if the identification of genes involved in pathologies or in ageing benefits from recent advances in genomics and bioinformatics, the understanding of involved functional mechanisms remains a major challenge since the function of a given gene can change with the context.” Genex has developed PredictSearch, an in-house software using big data, which could be described as a mix between Google and Medline to carry out biofunctional analyzes of the genes.
In France, genetic examination can only be carried out for medical, judicial or scientific research purposes. This is not the case in the US, but also in Norway and Sweden, where some cosmetics companies offer tailor-made products based on a DNA analysis of the customer.
Is it a real scientific advance or only marketing argument, it is probably too early to know…