The antimicrobial effects of chitosan (from the exoskeleton of crustaceans) have been known for several years. Now, some research suggests that nanoparticles of chitosan could be used to create a new generation of anti-ageing creams.
A team of researchers based at Fairleigh Dickinson University, in Teaneck, New Jersey, have put forward the theory that nanoparticles of the substance chitosan (derived from the shells of sea creatures like shrimps) may have anti-ageing properties which could be harnessed to manufacture body and face creams. The research was highlighted in Disabled World.
Chitosan is a natural, non-toxic and biodegradable, polysaccharide readily obtained from chitin, the main component of the shells of shrimp, lobster and the beak of the octopus and squid. Chitosan has a number of remarkable properties. It can kill many types of bacteria; it can be used to combat tooth decay; and has been used as a preservative in packaged foods.
Chitosan is also sold as a weight loss product in health stores. In theory, it helps weight loss through having the properties of a "fat binder where it limits the absorption of fat in the body. This has not met with universal scientific support and the U.S. FDA have taken enforcement action over incorrect claims in relation to the way that some companies have marketed chitosan products.
The research team, led by Mihaela Leonida, have published a paper in the International Journal of Nano and Biomaterials. The main focus of the research is in using nanoparticles of chitosan for wound healing and for preventing infection. However, as an off-shoot of the wound healing research, where the particles are believed to stimulate skin cell growth, chitosan may have the potential to be used in anti-ageing creams.
At the moment the possibility of anti-ageing creams taken from the main structural element in the exoskeleton of crustaceans is purely speculative. Given the size of the anti-ageing cream market, if processes could be adapted and success proven, the production of any cream would no doubt lead to a profitable business.