In the never ending search for interesting new sources for active ingredients, much of the attention has been shifted towards ingredients of marine origin. A large number of marine species have not yet been extensively studied which make new findings that propose beneficial effects for us highly interesting for the cosmetics industry.
One of the fascinating inhabitants of the sea is the sea anemone, known to many as the shelter for clown fish. A lesser known fact is, as the sea anemone is soft and vulnerable, it produces a venom to protect itself from predators and also to immobilise prey. Recently, scientists have found that a protein component of the Heteractis crispa sea anemone venom is a potent inhibitor of the pain receptor TRPV1, which is an interesting approach for sensitive skin.
The TRPV1 receptor is responsible for transmitting the sensation of pain upon contact with heat, chemicals, and acids. It is present in our skin as this is the first barrier that encounters environmental stresses. While the activity of the receptor is important to protect us from harm such as reacting with pain and withdrawing the hand when touching a hot surface, an overactivity can be harmful as well. Especially sensitive skin is characterised by an hyperreactive pain receptor which manifests itself as skin that feels too tight, itching and even burning even though there are no harmful influences on the skin. In addition to being responsible for skin discomfort, TRPV1 is involved in skin aging. In photoaged human skin, TRPV1 is often overexpressed. Furthermore, constant activation of TRPV1, for example by heat and infrared radiation, leads to the upregulation of enzymes that destroy collagen in the skin which could lead to premature skin ageing. Therefore, the solution is to reduce TRPV1 activation in sensitive skin to normal levels to strengthen the tolerance level and to reduce the uncomfortable feeling of the skin.
The aforementioned sea anemone protein is a perfect candidate to reduce skin sensitivity by inhibiting an overreaction of the TRPV1 pain receptor. However, the full-length protein is unstable and too big to penetrate into the skin and harvesting it from sea anemone venom is not feasible for cosmetic applications. Therefore, a five amino acid peptide was designed by Mibelle Biochemistry in collaboration with Venomtech, who are experts in venom-based drug discovery. This pentapeptide contains the active TRPV1 receptor binding site of the sea anemone protein. Another advantage is the sustainability through the synthetic production of the peptide which does not require sea anemones. To further ensure stability and bioavailability, the pentapeptide was incorporated into a soft sphere carrier system based on shea butter. The resulting novel cosmetic active SensAmone P5 is a solution to relieve sensitive and irritated skin.
It was demonstrated in vitro that the pentapeptide strongly reduces TRPV1 receptor activation upon irritation. In a placebo-controlled clinical study, SensAmone P5 was shown to significantly reduce the reactivity of sensitive skin 2 hours after just a single application. After four weeks of application, SensAmone P5 reduced skin sensitivity in a lactic acid stinging test. The result is a soothed and calm skin that is more resistant to environmental stresses.