PCA Skin Launches Live Skin Samples Into Space

PCA Skin is (literally) shooting for the stars in a world-first experiment that could change skincare as we know it.

PCA Skin, a Colgate-Palmolive Company brand, has officially launched the first-ever private sector skin health experiment to the International Space Station (ISS). The experiment, sponsored by the ISS National Lab, will explore the effects of microgravity on skin-related genes as the biomarkers used to evaluate overall skin health in an effort to guide future product innovations and technologies. 

The experiment began its travel to the ISS aboard Northrop Grumman’s 17th commercial resupply services mission in its Cygnus spacecraft on February 19, 2022 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

PCA Skin x ISS Micro Gravity Patch.

The live tissue samples aboard the spacecraft will be to examine how the skin is affected by the microgravity environment. Exposure to microgravity is known to impact human physiology in multiple ways, including the development of skin rashes and other irritations while in orbit, and thinning of the skin on return to Earth. The results from this investigation are projected to help the brand develop ground-breaking strategies for managing and boosting skin health here on Earth.

“Through this exciting endeavour, we’ll be able to gather new data on the skin health biomarkers behind those changes — data which will be available faster than it would be on Earth,” says Lia Arvanitidou, Global Technology and Design Vice President for Colgate-Palmolive’s skin health businesses.

“We know from historical data that space travel and lengthy exposure to microgravity have profound effects on the skin. Astronauts in space experience thinning, dry skin that is susceptible to cuts. While these changes are comparable to those observed during the normal ageing process on Earth, it appears that they are accelerated in microgravity,” she explains.

To conduct the experiment on the ISS, a team of Colgate-Palmolive scientists partnered with BioServe Space Technologies to develop a custom device housing live, lab-grown skin samples from MatTek Life Sciences. The samples will be exposed to the microgravity environment aboard the ISS for a set number of days and then frozen until they are returned to Earth. Once the samples return to the ISS National Laboratory, researchers will compare the new findings to those of control experiments conducted on the ground.

This latest experiment is Colgate-Palmolive’s second research project in collaboration with the ISS National Lab in the name of health and beauty innovation. “We are committed to exploring new pathways to innovation that help our customers feel their best,” says Arvanitidou. “We are confident that our collaboration with the ISS National Lab will give us valuable insights to inform our work as a result-driven, professional-grade skincare company deeply rooted in science and skin health.”

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