For the last few decades, stem cell technology has been hailed as the axis on which the future of our health - from heart diseaseand Parkinson’s to Multiple Sclerosis - hinges. There is one lesser-touted area, however, that could see just as seismic a change: ageing skin.
So says Professor Augustinus Bader, Director and Professor of Applied Stem Cell Biology and Cell Technology at the University of Leipzig. Having led extensive research into organ transplantation and patients with severe burns for more than 30 years, he has now applied his findings to the world of beauty, creating a serum that purports to ‘unlock the body’s natural healing code’ and wind back the years of its users in the process, with 10 per cent of the sales going to the Augustinus Bader Foundation to fund the treatment of burns victims worldwide.
“People think we have a shortage of stem cells,” he explains of his research, but believes he has discovered “a mechanism that occurs in the body which allow us to trigger repair processes. As we get older, our skin changes and becomes a little bit like a scar - harder, and less elastic,” Bader adds. “That was the bridge to the cream.”
Both the Cream and the Rich Cream (the latter a more concentrated version of the former) contain TFC8; a combination of amino acids, vitamins and molecules that naturally occur in the skin and, he says, create the perfect environment for regeneration and renewal. “We have an inner genetic code that reduces the accessibility to our natural repair signals - we just stop making them,” he explains of the ageing process. “We can't change external factors like sunburn or pollution, but we can change our skin’s responses to them, which are gradual and daily.”
The cream enacts what Bader calls the ABC Method: Activate (‘specific signalling tools that exist within the body are replicated and used to activate the patient’s own stem cells’), Boost (‘supports the body to boost its own regenerative capacity in a safe and controlled environment’) and Commit (‘tissue-specific signals commit cells to generate the correct, healthy tissue’). But does it actually work?
At £205 per bottle, one would hope so. As for the celebrity contingent, Melanie Griffith and Dakota Johnson have sung its praises; a raft of models and influencers have posted across social media to say that, within weeks, applying the cream twice a day drastically changed the appearance of their skin, removing redness, dryness and lines to visibly alter issues from acne to ageing.
Bader spent 18 months developing the concoction because, “like a three star Michelin chef, I could have all the best ingredients but get the formulations wrong.” Having never used skincare products before, he now uses his own iteration religiously - and, for those inclined to fork out on different products from day to night creams, eye serums, cleansers and toners, this is, he assures me, a one stop shop.
“It is not,” though, “a conventional cosmetic”- unsurprising, really, given the average beauty product isn’t developed based off treatments applied to hospital patients. “I became depressed and frustrated knowing how you could help people using this kind of technology who had severe kinds of medical need, but I couldn't develop it, because it would cost €50-100m, and it was impossible to find conventional investors.”
With the dual vision of the cream - “a product everyone could use that would fund the clinical research,” a philanthropist offered financial backing for the seven-year study that led to its creation.
Combining “the medical work I’ve always wanted to do” - funding further research and treatment in underserved corners of the globe - with “a product that makes people happy” is, for Bader, the culmination of decades of hard work. And, if early reviews are anything to go by, his serums - and any future possible products - look to be in rude health.
Professor Bader presents Futuristic Skincare: Revolutionary Science Disrupting the Beauty Industry at the Cannes Lions Festival on Tuesday 19th June at 11:45am augustinusbader.com