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Science finds way to keep wrinkles at bay

By John von Radowitz

Wrinkled faces may not always be an inevitable part of ageing thanks to a ground-breaking new discovery.

Scientists have identified a natural way to regenerate the fatty cells that keep skin looking smooth and young.

Not only could this lead to spectacular anti-ageing treatments, it may also pave the way to scar-free healing of wounds. Fat cells called adipocytes are normally found in skin but are lost when scars form and as a result of ageing. Lack of adipocytes is one main reason why permanent wrinkles become etched on the faces of older people.

Laboratory studies showed how hair follicles held the key to keeping healing skin scar-free and smooth by releasing a vital signalling molecule, called Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP).

BMP was found to instruct scar-forming cells commonly found in healing wounds to transform themselves into adipocytes. Lead scientist Professor George Cotsarelis, from the University of Pennsylvania in the US, said: "Essentially, we can manipulate wound healing so that it leads to skin regeneration rather than scarring."

He said the findings could "lead us to brand new anti-ageing treatments".

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