Telomere technology - an anti-ageing breakthrough?

Emma Reinhold looks at how the latest scientific findings into telomeres may have benefits for the beauty industry

Researchers from the University of California say they have found the first evidence that exercise, diet and a stress-free life can help reverse the ageing process.

The study, which was published in the Lancet Oncology, found that a strict vegetarian diet, regular exercise and taking part in stress busting activities such as yoga and meditation, reversed the cellular ageing in telomeres, the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes that help prevent the loss or damage of genetic information during cell division.

Telomeres get shorter as we age and our cells divide, which can eventually stop cell division all together. However, the new study claims that telomere length actually increased in the subjects who changed their lifestyle habits – ten men with low risk prostate cancer – as opposed to those – another 25 men with low risk prostate cancer – who did not.

So what does this mean for the beauty industry?

Telomere technology is still at a nascent stage but that hasn't stopped beauty brands from tapping into the trend. A few years back Revlon launched Eterna 27, a moisturiser with a 'protective telomeric complex'. At the time of its release, Revlon claimed that there was “no other cream in the world like this cream – at any price”.

Meanwhile this month, Aromatherapy Associates unveiled its new anti-ageing range, Rose Infinity, which is based on Nobel Prize-winning telomere technology.

The new range comprises a serum, moisturiser and eye cream each containing a blend of soy and yeast proteins and plant stem cells, which are claimed to regenerate and illuminate mature skin. Regular use of the line is said to help repair and boost collagen and plump out the appearance of wrinkles for a younger looking complexion.

Aromatherapy Associates co-founder Geraldine Howard believes we are on the cusp of something game-changing for anti-ageing, and is watching with great interest as the science moves from the world of medicine into beauty.

The study could also open up new opportunities for nutraceutical brands, which play on the concept of inside-out beauty, as well as fitness and wellbeing companies looking for an integrative approach to looking and feeling younger for longer.

However, scientists have expressed cautious interest in the University of California's study findings calling for the study to replicated on a larger scale to see if the effects are more significant in larger numbers of volunteers, as well as adding that telomere shortening is not likely to be the only reason for ageing in humans.

Telomere technology may not hold the secret to eternal youth on its own but as science continues to break new barriers in discovery, we are one step nearer to finding that miracle in a bottle.