Stem cell cosmetics are cosmetic products that are claimed to develop based on the stem cell technology. In a narrow meaning, they are specific products that used main ingredients originated from stem cell research.

Even stem cells are known beneficial to human, stem cell cosmetics are very slow growing. Almost main cosmetics manufacturers are afraid to involve in biological, legal and ethical problems. Stem cell cosmetics with own stem cells or derivative of stem cells will probably be involved in the problems.

Therefore, it is very important to examine and concern carefully about stem cell cosmetics before developing, manufacturing, and selling them.

Nowadays, stem cell cosmetics can divided 4 types depend on main ingredients as follows;


No cell culture problem is as universal as that of culture loss due to contamination. All cell culture laboratories and cell culture workers have experienced it. Culture contaminants may be biological or chemical, seen or unseen, destructive or seemingly benign, but in all cases there are adverse effects on cultures.

Biological contaminants can be subdivided into two groups based on the difficulty of detecting them in cultures:

• those that are usually easy to detect ? bacteria, molds and yeast;
• those that are more difficult to detect, and as a result potentially more serious culture problems, ? viruses, protozoa, insects, mycoplasmas and other cell lines.

Microbial contaminants such as bacteria or fungi, etc can achieve high densities altering the growth and characteristics of the cultures. But viral or prion contamination will not be any altering of the cultures. Due to their extremely small size, viruses or prions are the most difficult cell culture contaminants to detect in culture, requiring methods that are impractical for most research laboratories. Their small size also makes them very difficult to remove from media, sera, and other solutions of biological origin. If the use of contaminated stem cells or their extracts in cosmetics, it will be very harmful.

The study of stem cells as treatments is still at the beginning. Across the world, clinical trials on humans are rare but in the near future (5-10 years) stem cells will form a part of treatments at the bedside.

The main problem in using stem cells as therapies is the problem of removing them from their natural habit, as it is difficult to differentiate normal cells from stem cells (we do not have enough markers to identify them) and to fully understand how to maintain and control a cells ability to stay as a stem cell or to change into other cells.


A report released by an international scientific team documents that human embryonic stem cells accumulate genetic mutations as they are cultured in the lab (Maitra A et al. , Genomic alterations in cultured human embryonic stem cells, Nature Genetics Sep. 2005 ). The study compared genetic changes between cells early on in their laboratory growth and those that had been grown for longer periods of time. Like all other cells, human embryonic stem cells accumulated mutations and chromosomal changes, many of which are associated with faster growth

and tumor formation . Thus embryonic stem cells pose an unusually high risk for genetic changes and tumor formation, with the risk increasing the longer the cells are grown, thus making their therapeutic use or cosmetic use even more speculative and problematic.

By contrast, adult and cord blood stem cells are usually not grown for extensive periods, so do not pose this potential of accumulating mutations. Instead, adult stem cells are generally used in patients shortly after they are harvested (or retrieved from frozen storage), and have already benefited thousands worldwide.

But Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients face a significant long-term risk for developing a second cancer, particularly if they were older at the time of transplant or received stem cells from a female donor, according to a new study. Published in the January 1, 2007 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study reveals that within 10 years of an allogeneic HSCT, the relative risk of a second, solid cancer is almost twice that of the general population. In addition, cancer risk almost quadruples for patients who were over 40 years old at the time of transplant or for patients who received stem cells from a female donor. ( BBC News Stem cell therapy disease warning 2005/5/19 ).

If fact, cosmetic use of stem cells or extracts directly may be very harmful. Y ou introduce infection because you cannot check all the biological contaminants such as viruses, prions, etc when you take material from stem cells which are developing and where the origin is unknown. This kind of treatment can compare to the 19th century Brown-Sequard “organotherapy” whereby human diseases were treated using extracts from animal or human organs. The only reason people feel a positive effect for a month or 6 weeks after the use of stem cell cosmetics containing stem cells or stem cell extracts is because introducing foreign material into the body causes various troubles. The risks are potentially very high.


Scientists obtained scientific result that stem cell culture broth is valuable source to treat or skin care. This concept is better than that of item 1. But this case also may be dangerous.

It is generally believed that the growth of almost all types of mammalian cells in culture require the presence of added antibiotics in the culture medium. Bacterial contamination in media may seriously impair cells during culture. Maintaining sterile conditions in vitro is a great concern in most cell culture, and antibiotics are routinely added to most culture media today. Reduction or exclusion of antibiotics from media is possible but requires very strict laboratory methods which minimise the risk of contamination. Antibiotics free culture method is not general because of cost and technical problems.


Cell culture technology is used in virtually all fields of biomedical research and testing. Since the early days of cell and tissue culture, animal serum has been added to the culture media as a source of nutrients. Serum is a largely undefined, complex mixture of many and various constituents, some 200 of which have been identified so far. The effect of many of these on cultured cells remains unclear, and there is some evidence to suggest that there are cytotoxins in serum that have a detrimental effect on both primary and established cell lines. In addition, serum can harbor contaminants such as viruses, bacteria, prions and mycoplasmas.

The production of safer sources of culture soup for cosmetic use should be eliminated all animal serum together antibiotics before use. Unfortunately, this requirement is not solved by technically and economically until now.

Furthermore, there are not any scientific reports that stem cell culture broth are safe to use in cosmetics and medicine. We don't know that the stem cells release what materials into the media during culture. We don't also know the released materials whether safe or not although the materials are shown positive effects on the skin.


# The rules on cosmetics in the European Union are mainly aimed at ensuring that the cosmetic products sold in Member States are not harmful to health. Provisions on cosmetics prohibit outright the use of certain ingredients that have been shown to be harmful and set limits for other substances. There are also rules on instructions for use and labelling these products. Laws relating to cosmetics have been harmonised in EU Member States. Only products that comply with EU rules can be placed on the market. More than 1,000 ingredients have been entirely prohibited in the manufacturing of cosmetics. Cells, tissues or products of human origin are listed as prohibit ingredients (Ref; 1976L0768 ? EN ? 19.09.2007 ? 018.002 ? 1 ).


Stem cell cosmetics with the method are safe. In this case, the cosmetics do not actually have stem cells or stem cell derivatives including culture soap in it; the technology simply uses bio-mimickers. The stem cell or other skin cell regulators are released from stem cells during culture period. The regulators may be cytokines, peptides, proteins, minerals, chemicals or vitamins, etc. Modern biological and chemical techniques can easily define structure of the molecule. Scientists generally use various techniques including DNA chip, Proteomics, HPLC, etc. After confirm the structure, we can make a bio-mimicker by chemical synthesis or produce by genetic engineering. The method is convenient to obtain stem cell regulators but time consume.

Lots of scientific research teams in worldwide are struggling to find the new materials. Almost cosmetics manufacturers have to use the materials in the near future. "A specific molecule to awaken the body's own reservoir of stem cells to rejuvenate the skin and make you look younger" so the ad may state


The application of in vitro luciferase(LUC) bioluminescence systems can integrate in approach for development of new compounds which are implicated as a transcription factor regulator involved in stem cell proliferation or other skin cell proliferation. This approach includes the use of human stem cell lines transfected with luc gene under control stem cell proliferation regulators for in vitro studies.

In order to screen for compounds that act as the stem cell activator or inhibitors, we use small molecules extracted from plants. Since these small molecules have no antigens, they are not recognized as foreign by the host body and there are no allergic reactions. The use of plant origin also eliminates ethical considerations, since it causes no harm to the animal or involvement with human tissues.

In addition, these reporter lines in the evaluation of high-throughput screening hits in vitro in various models such as anti wrinkle, anti inflammation, etc are very useful potentially in stem cell research field.