The event, moderated by Michael Conti of Solabia USA, was produced by Kisaco Research, London. For those who missed the event in Boston, Kisaco Research will put on two more events in 2018, one in San Francisco, September 12 and 13, and the other, in London, November 14 and 15. Organizers and attendees were both pleased with the Boston event, which got underway with a presentation by Marie Drago, founder of Gallinée, a microbiotic skin care brand that includes pro- and prebiotic formulas as well as lactic acid-based products.
“The microbiome changes the way we look at the treatment of acne, as well as other skin problems such as eczema, atopic dermatitis and even aging,” insisted Drago. “We were the first company in Europe to put bacteria in a positive light!”
Unilever Ventures agreed, taking a minority interest in a company that is just three years old. The rise of microbiome-based skin care results in simpler formulas and fewer products in a daily skin care routine. But it also presents challenges, such as the need for packaging innovation and anhydrous formulas as bacteria-based products have a much shorter shelf life. Moreover, Drago admitted that there are not a lot of probiotics in current formulas.
“We need a new generation of actives,” she noted. “But we are moving from ingredient beauty to ecosystem beauty.”
Unilever Ventures executives concur. UV’s Jason Harcup noted that since 2002, there has been a 300x increase in microbiome publications.
“Unilever is investing in the entire ecosystem,” he told attendees. “Beauty is a $444 billion business. What if the microbiome could get 5% of that? There is a big market to play for.”
And Unilever is all in with 17 global technologies in the space making several million dollars. And yet, Harcup ticked off six challenges the company and other formulators face when creating microbiome-based beauty.
• One, hit the target better.
• Two, find the real target.
• Three, remember the host—skin;
• Four, rebalance the microbiome;
• Five, make it last; and
• Six, “It is all pointless if you can’t get your goodies to the skin!” Harcup concluded.
A Willing Consumer
Consumers are certainly ready for bacteria-based beauty, according to Mintel Analyst David Tyrell, who noted that 50% of 18 to 40-year-olds in the US purchase natural products.
Chemists may not agree, (but) “Consumers know that natural means safe,” he explained. “Clean beauty will be the norm for the young.”
Need convincing? According to Mintel, 53% of US women associate the word “clean” with natural; 86% of US Millennials are interested or use probiotics and while only 10% of Baby Boomers use probiotics, 52% want to try, said Tyrell.
Quorum Innovations has two patents identifying biologically-active compounds from microbial biofilm. The company’s Qi ProBiomic technology, which is based on Lactobacillus fermentum bacterium, can be found in its BioEsse skin care line, explained Nicholas Monsul, the company’s founder and chairman. BioEsse helps balance skin microflora, smooths skin via a FilaggRenew technology, brightens skin with a proprietary blend of omega fatty acids, boosts skin’s natural moisturizing factor and protects the acid mantle which sits atop the microbiome.
One of the most successful bacteria-based skin care brands is Mother Dirt, which includes moisturizer, shampoo, cleanser and the hero product, AO+ Mist. Founder and President Jasmina Aganovic reviewed the company’s history, noting the challenges in distributing temperature-sensitive and unpreserved products. In several instances, Mother Dirt exceeded its own estimates by launching online in 2015, adding other e-comm channels in 2016 and was available in Whole Foods in the UK at the end of 2017. It is also available online and through select retailers in the US.
Now, Mother Dirt executives are reviewing distribution channels. Aganovic noted that new venutes such as Amazon Fresh, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh have already shaken up the food business.
“Does distribution adapt to products or do products adapt to distribution,” Aganovic asked. “What happens next is up to us.”
Although, she pointed out, when products heat up, bacteria die.
Tula Skincare Founder Roshini Raj and VP-Marketing Alisa Metzger detailed how their company
was founded and what’s on the horizon.
“I am a gastroenterologist,” explained Raj. “If you take probiotics for your gut, why not for your skin? My patients were telling me that probiotics were having an effect on their skin.”
Armed with that information, Tula quickly grew from a two-person operation to an eight-figure company.
“Consumers want probiotics; they consider them to be natural,” observed Metzger.
The goal, she said isn’t to solve a skin problem, it is to get skin to a healthier state.
“My patients ask me about probiotics before I bring it up,” said Raj. “The idea of wellness has taken hold.”
What’s next for Tula? The company will leverage the food industry for probiotic awareness and education.
MatriSys Bioscience has harnessed the power of the microbiome to develop therapeutics to treat atopic dermatitis, explained CEO Mark Wilson. Now, the company has incorporated strains of S. epidermidis and S. hominis into an anhydrous lotion to diminish scaling, flakiness, redness, dullness, itching and dry skin and some of the signs of extrinsic aging.
S-Biomedic is developing a retail acne product that replaces the bacteria that causes acne with alternative strains that help prevent acne, explained Bernhard Paetzold. He noted that Cutibacterium acnes make up 60-90% of the face. Most interesting, the bacterium excretes RoxP, an enzyme that reduces free radicals and protects molecules from oxidation.
This research could have a major impact on acne treatment (a $4 billion market), dandruff treatment (a $3 billion market) and anti-aging (a $34 billion market), according to Paetzold.
“Acne vulgaris is the No. 1 reason why people visit a dermatology, but there haven’t been any new treatments in 30 years, and there is a 90% relapse when classic treatments such as benzoyl peroxide are stopped,” he noted.
Travis Whitfill, founder and chief scientific officer, Azitra, explained how his company is using strains such as S. epidermidis and S. hominis to treat atopic dermatitis. He explained that bacteria improve hydration, reduce water loss and improve wound healing.
The four-step process includes:
• Select a bacterial strain that is key to the optimal microbiome;
• Engineer the bacteria to deliver therapeutic levels of missing proteins;
• Bacteria colonize the skin and deliver a therapeutic protein; and
• The delivered proteins lead to improved barrier function and the correct bacteria leads to reduced inflammatory load.
The skin microbiome includes the scalp, reminded Cécile Clavaud of L’Oréal Research & Innovation. She explained that Malassezia restricta is the major yeast of the dandruff scalp. Dandruff is associated with the disequilibrium of Malassezia restricta/p. acnes and S. Epidermidis.
Forget the Hype
BioEsse and Mother Dirt represent microbiome success at the retail level, Larry Weiss, chief medical officer of AOBiome, urged attendees to concentrate on research and let the dollars take care of themselves. In a presentation entitled “The Skin Microbiome: A View from the Trailhead” with Marie Alice Dibon, Weiss noted that there has been a trajectory of awareness about the microbiome in the past four years.
“Let’s make sure that as we tell our stories and launch our products that we are good stewards,” he reminded the audience. “We are stewards of a transformative science! Let’s put outcomes ahead of incomes! If we do, the money will come.”
According to Weiss, science and industry needs a better definition of health that takes in all that has been lost through evolution; noting that acne and rosacea didn’t exist in hunter/gatherer communities.
“We are on the verge of a revolution,” he insisted. “In the lifesciences we are where physics was 100 years ago. We are moving from pharmacology to systems biology.”
Microbiota science was the topic of Julia Oh’s presentation. The Jackson Laboratory researcher detailed how the industry is using metagenomics and culturomics to obtain patient-specific species and strains.
“Antibiotics are still life-saving, but they kill with a broad brush,” she noted. “So we are focused on precision therapeutics, probiotics and engineered probiotics.”
The difficult goal, said Oh, is to maintain a diverse flora, pH balance and barrier.
The microbiome field is promising, but leave it to a lawyer to inject reality into the conversation.
“The law wasn’t made to address all of these innovative things,” observed Riette van Laack, an attorney with Hyman, Phelps & McNamara. “You will have a problem with microbiome claims. It is part of your body.”
FDA Warning Letters are like getting a speeding ticket, she told the audience.
“Everybody on the road is speeding (but) you were the unlucky one to get a ticket!”
Furthermore, FDA is not the only cop in town; other enforcers include States, competitors, plaintiff attorneys and FTC. Moreover, enforcement is sporadic and often comes in clusters.
Day 1 of the Microbiome Congress concluded with a presentation by Denis Wahler of Givaudan Active Beauty, one of the event’s sponsors. Givaudan Active Beauty created several “microbiome-activated” ingredients, including Brightenyl, a skin brightener, Revivyl, billed as a holistic skin renewal accelerator and most recently, PrimalHyal 300, which reinforces the skin’s natural defense and wound-healing properties.
Visit Happi.com later this month for more microbiome insights from the Congress.