Wednesday, March 28, 2012

SLC24A5 Inhibitor II

Does SLC24A5 Gene-Inhibitor really whitens the skin? 

Recently, there has been a new up and coming whitening injection procedure called the SLC24A- Inhibitor. I have seen this product being advertised by several well known aesthetic clinics in the country.

Don't let the complex name confuse you. Putting it simply, what this injection claims to do is that once injected, it will go into your DNA and telling your body to "switch-off" the genetic information that pigments your skin causing a much lighter skin appearance without affecting other pigmented body parts such as your hair, eyes, etc.

Now, this information does sound like too good to be true and honestly as an aesthetic physician, i was very interested to inquire more info bout the product especially before introducing it to my patients.

Here's the information i found out from the manufacturer's website:

Fig.1  "Chief Researcher" in SLC24A5 technology 
 (Picture screen-printed directly from the manufacturer's website)

Information from the Manufacturer's Site : "Swiss Institution of Medical sciences -- Aeskulap Brunnen has once again invented the most powerful skin whitening formulations which is the safest and most powerful in the world – SLC24A5 Inhibitor, which disables the pigmentation gene in the body."

Fig 2.  Dark Zebra Fish claimed to turn white after SLC24A5 Inhibitor Injection
 (A Picture posted on the Manufacturer's Website)

My first instinct was that of amazement. I thought to myself, if scientific research on genetics is already this advanced, we are days away from injectable drugs that can "turn-off" genes for cancer and various auto-immune disease, certainly skin-whitening would not be the number one priority medical application for such advanced genetic engineering technology.

So, my curiosity got me to the path of finding the full article of that "Zebra Fish Research" (Fig.2) that claims to whiten the color of a fish after several injections of this substance.

When i couldn't find this suggested article by "Prof Jason Mest" (Fig.1) through the conventional medical literature search engine, i tried finding the article through the "Aeskulap Brunnen Institution of Medical Research." I thought, this is such a huge research and since "Prof. Mest" is the lead scientist in that particular institute, surely i could find a full-text paper of this calibre easily on that site.

To my surprise, there is no such "Aeskulap Brunnen Institution of Medical Research" in Switzerland as the manufacturer suggested. There is, however, an Aeskulap Klinik (Its a big Clinic in the city of Brunen, Switzerland, not a medical research institute). I tried inquiring if this SLC24A5 Gene Inhibitor therapy is even offered there and at this point i was not surprised anymore that there isn't such therapy or even anything similar to such thing existed in Aeskulap Klinik !

Since the manufacturer also claimed that "Professor Mest" is a Professor in Genetic at the University of Philadelphia Medical School, i thought if this person was real, someone of his caliber would definitely be listed as a faculty in the university website, right?,
and again, not surprisingly, there's not a known professor in that university ever existed.

So, who is James Mest really? Is the research even valid? or does the "zebra fish" article even exist?

I finally located the original article that has been misconstrued in the manufacturer's website and here's what i found out:

Fig. 3: The Original /Real Research Article :

The original/ real article (Fig.3) is a fully valid article entitled "SLC24A5 a Putative Cation Exchanger, Affects Pigmentation in Zebra Fish and Humans."

To my current knowledge, this article was published in magazine called "Science" Vol 310, 16 Decemer 2005 Issue (Note: Although "Science" magazine is an informative and trustworthy scientific journalism, however it is not categorized as a peer-reviewed medical journal).

Basically what the real article (Fig. 3) (explained by the abstract in Fig.3, i have highlighted the important bits of information for easier understanding of the real article) is saying is that  through this research, they have possibly identified the source of different skin colorations in Zebra Fish (Fig.4), so it's not that lighter colored fish turned dark to light as a result of the injection  as the caption in Fig.2 suggested. But that picture is basically pictures of 2 different variants of Zebra Fish that are being compared and studied/ Based on comparing these 2 different colored fish, the researchers found out that the SLC2A45 gene in this particular type of fish may have an important role in determining how one fish gets to be a lighter color than the other. 

The article suggested that the human genes is somewhat similar to that of Zebra Fish and therefore although this research was primarily on Zebra Fish, the result that they found can very well be applied to humans as well.
 Fig 4: Pictures of 2 Different Variants of Zebra Fish

As for "Jason Mest," as you can see in Fig. 3, he actually does really exist (to my surprise) and in fact one of the main researchers in the study from Dept of Pathology in Jake Gilden Cancer Research Institute (as the real article suggested) and not an aesthetic researcher/professor in the non-existant  biomedical institute in Switzerland or part of the faculty in the University of Philadelphia.

Now, before you decide on dropping on thousands of dollars and getting daily injection for 2-4 weeks (the recommended dosage by the manufacturer is: daily or every other day for a total of 36 vials injection in the first cycle to be injected into the muscle/vein) of this "high-tech" genetic engineering whitening solution is not only to question about is efficacy, but also more importantly think about its safety!

Because as a physician, i would be having a difficult time in assuring the safety (or let alone the efficacy) of a product whose primary ingredient is rather questionable.

Therefore, the next time you see amazing before/after pictures (Fig.5) in a magazine or waiting lounge of a swanky place somewhere (as I have seen these very sets of pictures being used to advertise this injection product to the general public in several well-known beauty magazines and even sadly endorsed by a medical specialist!), I encourage you to think again and this time more critically and bear in mind these 3 important principles:

1.  If the results seem to good to be true -> they probably are, and
2. If the technology seems to be too advanced from where are now, it probably is ! 
and if you're still in doubt,
3. Ask your doctor a detailed information about the procedure you're interested in, it's your right to know and remember that it is OK to ask critical questions!


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This site is to provide users with accurate information concerning various aesthetic injectables available in the market with up to date and reliable information giving them the available options they need in one place so that they will go away with more knowledge and a little wisdom as to what is best for their aesthetic needs.



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