The Speciality Crops team is working to validate the biological functions of plants and products provided by different Cornish SMEs, assisting them in providing scientific evidence for the benefits of their products using 3D printing, cell culture and molecular techniques.
Historically, seaweeds and coastal plants have been used as a source of natural extracts for cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications because of the way they’ve evolved to cope with – and prosper in – their difficult natural environment. Their amino acids, vitamins, minerals – along with hydrophilic and anti-bacterial characteristics – have all been cited as reasons for their effectiveness.
Proponents say such ingredients can help with everything from combating the signs of ageing and fighting acne and dermatitis to helping circulation and relieving muscles and joints. The hydrating, anti-inflammatory and cooling functions of products incorporating them are much admired.
In addition to collaborating with SMEs to identify new plants which have properties that they could integrate into their existing products, the Speciality Crops project will work with them to analyse the functional compositions of their current offering and propose new formulations.
Key to this will be using the unique ‘human skin equivalent platform’ established at the University of Plymouth’s Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. This cutting-edge piece of kit replicates skin with huge degrees of reality, then creates movement, so yielding continuous and real-time insights into tissue and cellular ‘events’, thus giving insights into the ageing process and allowing different materials’ anti-wrinkling effectiveness to be tested.