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Conference Report: International Society for Biophysics and Imaging of the Skin (ISBS) World Congres


Held on May 1-4 at the Kimpton Solamar in San Diego, the 32nd World Congress of the ISBS drew over a hundred attendees from nearly 20 different countries. TRI staff members Qihong Zhang (also selected for a podium presentation) and Rezma Shrestha were in attendance and share a few highlights:




  • ISBS honored the lives and legacy of Steven B. Hoath and Nikiforos "Nik" Kollias with tributes given by Marty Vischer and Gopi Menon respectively in sessions dedicated to them. Outlining some of their landmark contributions to the field, friends and collaborators shared how their work has had far-reaching implications in advancing our understanding of human skin.

  • In his keynote lecture titled “Overcoming the barrier”, Samir Mitragotri spoke about the challenges that our natural biological barriers impose against efficient delivery of actives. Detailing the work his lab has done on using ionic liquids, specifically the CAGE system (Choline + Geranic acid), to modify skin barrier and significantly enhance transdermal delivery, he hoped that these lessons can be applied to overcoming other barriers and drastically improve penetration and bioavailability of newer biologics.

  • During the session on neonatal skin, Vivek Narendran shared his research on the vernix caseosa (biofilm coating the pre-term infant), and how it behaves as “nature’s multifunctional skin cream”. The vernix has a range of remarkable properties, including waterproofing, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, moisturizing, cleansing, and wound healing, which makes it an ideal first layer of protection to the fetus. Thus, these attributes of the vernix could be replicated in skin creams to not only provide greater cosmetic benefit, but potentially treat skin disorders as well. While neonate skin is very different from adult skin, it can provide fascinating insights into how the skin matures over time, and how barrier properties change in diseased skin states, as indicated by the talks and posters featured in the congress.

  • Aging/elderly skin seemed to be of special interest, as we learned about multiple clinical studies performed with women aged over 60 and even 70 years that focused on measuring key skin attributes such as lipid content, hydration (Aline Rigal), radiance (Virginie Hourblin), collagen, and elastin fibers (Tracy Wang). Studies like these can promote development of skincare strategies targeted to address issues specific to elderly skin.

  • In K.P. Ananth’s keynote lecture, he pointed out the “Facts and Fictions” behind claims substantiation of cosmetic and personal care products by setting up two great examples of limited ceramide penetration into human skin and introducing the idea that a “skin identical pH” cleanser doesn’t necessarily protect skin barrier function and may even destroy it.

  • We heard from many speakers about new and improved methods to measure properties of the skin via different imaging modes.

  • In vivo confocal microscopy (Pauline Tinguely): development of a qualitative, fast, and quantitative approach to access modification of the stratum corneum (SC) structure and barrier function after application of some sophisticated algorithms.

  • Fluorescence imaging (Tetsuji Hirao): development of a non-invasive approach to evaluate maturity of cornified envelope (CE) on facial skin, identify possible biomarkers for defective keratinization, as well as test promotion of CE maturation and improvement of barrier function of skin by application of appropriate moisturizer.

  • Capacitance imaging (Tim Houser): Measurement and visualization of skin barrier disruption pattern, which provides additional information on Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) rates.

  • Confocal Raman imaging (Tracy Wang): Characterization of skin hydration by both in vivo and ex vivo confocal Raman imaging elucidates both inside-out and outside-in water movement, which provides direct and reliable measurement of skin hydration dynamics.

  • Summary of Qihong Zhang’s podium presentation titled “Investigation and visualization of the skin barrier alterations associated with environmental stresses (UV, Ozone) by FTIR spectroscopy and FTIR imaging analysis”:

  • Discussed the capability to investigate UV/ozone damage to isolated SC and full thickness human skin by FTIR spectroscopy;

  • Isolated SC barrier function modification can be monitored by comparing acyl chain CH stretching center of mass (COM) with or without UV/ozone exposure;

  • Unique IR markers for oxidative products on full thickness skin were identified and quantified by ATR-FTIR imaging upon ozone exposure. Dosage dependent oxidation from skin surface to deeper layers of SC was monitored and visualized by comparing different treatment times. Similar skin barrier function modification was also observed and results were consistent with the data collected using the isolated SC;

  • In vivo IR measurement was also conducted and results correlated with ex vivo experiments, which provides a convenient and reliable method to develop anti-pollution claims and support testing practice.


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