DNA Repair Enzymes: – Part II: Positive Benefits on Skin? Positively! | BareFacedTruth.com

DNA Repair Enzymes: – Part II: Positive Benefits on Skin? Positively!

DNA damage and repair are complex topics with certain details necessary and unavoidable to cover the subject. The BFT audience is comprised of readers with sophisticated science backgrounds and others for whom only the “bottom line” is of interest i.e. what to do to protect their skin. There’s something here for everyone.



Experimental animals with genetic deficiencies in DNA repair often show decreased life span and increased incidence of cancer. Mice deficient in certain repair mechanisms get lymphoma and infections more often, and, as a consequence, have shorter lifespans. In similar manner, rodents deficient in a key repair and transcription protein that unwinds DNA helices have premature onset of aging-related diseases and consequent shortening of lifespan.

If the rate of DNA damage exceeds the capacity of the cell to repair it, the accumulation of errors can overwhelm the cell and result in early senescence, apoptosis, or cancer. Inherited diseases associated with faulty DNA repair functioning result in premature aging, increased sensitivity to carcinogens, and correspondingly increased cancer risk. On the other hand, organisms with enhanced DNA repair systems exhibit remarkable resistance to the double-strand break-inducing effects of radioactivity, likely due to enhanced efficiency of DNA repair especially.

It’s not possible, and it’s not good to “get used to the damage.” There is a price to pay, sooner or later.


Cells exposed to ionizing radiation, ultraviolet light or chemicals are prone to acquire multiple DNA lesions and double-strand breaks. Moreover, DNA damaging agents can damage other biomolecules such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and RNA.

The global response to damage is an act directed toward the cells’ own preservation and triggers multiple pathways of macromolecular repair, lesion bypass, tolerance, or apoptosis. DNA repair is essential for cell vitality, cell survival and cancer prevention, yet cells’ ability to patch up damaged DNA declines with age for reasons not fully understood.


Endogenous damage occurs as a result of the mere fact we are living organisms oxidizing fuel (food) to create cellular energy. This occurs within the mitochondria of the cells throughout our bodies. The biochemical processes produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) as normal metabolic byproducts. The process of creating energy within our mitochondria results in cascades of molecules “stealing” electrons from one another, ultimately donating electrons to the elemental oxygen taken in from the atmosphere. ROS lead to spontaneous DNA mutations.

Exogenous damage is caused by external agents such as UV light radiation from the sun, x-rays and gamma rays, certain plant toxins, human made chemicals, and viruses.


  1. oxidation of bases within the DNA helix and generation of DNA strand interruptions caused by reactive oxygen species
  2. alkylation of bases (attachment of hydrocarbon sidechains, most common methylation)
  3. hydrolysis of bases, such as deamination, depurination, and depyrimidination
  4. adduct formation – a DNA adduct is a segment of DNA bound to a cancer-causing chemical. Adducts may be single or multiple.
  5. mismatch of bases, due to errors in DNA replication, in which the wrong DNA base is stitched into place in a newly forming DNA strand, or a DNA base is skipped over or mistakenly inserted.


  1. UV-B light causes crosslinking between adjacent cytosine and thymine bases creating pyrimidine dimers. This is called direct DNA damage.
  2. UV-A light creates mostly free radicals. The damage caused by free radicals is called indirect DNA damage.
  3. Ionizing radiation such as that created by radioactive decay or in cosmic rays causes breaks in DNA strands. Intermediate-level ionizing radiation may induce irreparable DNA damage (leading to replicational and transcriptional errors needed for neoplasia or may trigger viral interactions) leading to pre-mature aging and cancer.
  4. Thermal disruption at elevated temperature increases the rate of depurination (loss of purine bases from the DNA backbone) and single-strand breaks.
  5. Industrial chemicals such as vinyl chloride and hydrogen peroxide, and environmental chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in smoke, soot and tar create a huge diversity of DNA adducts.


In human cells, DNA is found in two cellular locations — inside the nucleus and inside the mitochondria. Nuclear DNA (nDNA) exists as chromatin during non-replicative stages of the cell cycle and is condensed into aggregate structures known as chromosomes during cell division. In either state the DNA is highly compacted and wound up around bead-like proteins called histones.

Whenever a cell needs to express the genetic information encoded in its nDNA the required chromosomal region is unraveled, genes located therein are expressed, and then the region is condensed back to its resting conformation.


Senescence and apoptosis

Senescence, an irreversible process in which the cell no longer divides, is a protective response to the shortening of the chromosome ends (telomeres). The telomeres are long regions of repetitive noncoding DNA that cap chromosomes and undergo partial degradation each time a cell undergoes division. Senescence in cells may serve as a functional alternative to apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cases where the physical presence of a cell for spatial reasons is required by the organism.

Unregulated cell division can lead to the formation of a malignant tumor which is potentially lethal to an organism. Therefore, senescence and apoptosis are considered to be part of a strategy of protection against cancer.


It is important to distinguish between DNA damage and mutation, the two major types of error in DNA. DNA damage and mutation are fundamentally different. Damage results in physical abnormalities in the DNA, such as single- and double-strand breaks, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon adducts. DNA damage can be recognized by enzymes, and thus can be correctly repaired if redundant information, such as the undamaged sequence in the complementary DNA strand or in a homologous chromosome, is available for copying.

If a cell retains DNA damage, transcription of a gene can be prevented, and thus translation into a protein will also be blocked. Cellular replication may also be blocked or the cell may die.

In contrast to DNA damage, a mutation is a change in the base sequence of the DNA. A mutation cannot be recognized by enzymes once the base change is present in both DNA strands, and thus a mutation cannot be repaired. At the cellular level, mutations can cause alterations in protein function and regulation. Mutations are replicated when the cell replicates. In a population of cells, mutant cells will increase or decrease in frequency according to the effects of the mutation on the ability of the cell to survive and reproduce.


Depending on the type of damage inflicted on the DNA’s double helical structure, a variety of repair strategies have evolved to restore lost information. If possible, cells use the unmodified complementary strand of the DNA as a template to recover the original information. Without access to a template, cells use an error-prone recovery mechanism known as translesion synthesis as a last resort.

Damage to DNA alters the spatial configuration of the helix, and such alterations can be detected by the cell. Once damage is localized, specific DNA repair molecules bind at or near the site of damage, inducing other molecules to bind and form a complex that enables the actual repair to take place.

Direct reversal

1. Single-strand damage

When only one of the two strands of a double helix has a defect, the other strand can be used as a template to guide the correction of the damaged strand. In order to repair damage to one of the two paired molecules of DNA, there exist a number of excision repair mechanisms that remove the damaged nucleotide and replace it with an undamaged nucleotide complementary to that found in the undamaged DNA strand.

  1.  Base excision repair repairs damage to a single nitrogenous base by deploying enzymes called glycosylases. These enzymes remove a single base. Enzymes called AP endonucleases nick the damaged DNA backbone and removes the damaged region and then correctly synthesizes the new strand using the complementary strand as a template.
  2.  Nucleotide excision repair occurs with bulky helix-distorting DNA damage, typically from UV light. Damaged regions are removed a three-step process of recognition of damage, excision of damaged DNA, and re-synthesis of removed DNA.
  3.  Mismatch repair systems are present in essentially all cells to correct errors that are not corrected by proofreading. These systems consist of at least two proteins. One detects the mismatch, and the other recruits an endonuclease that cleaves the newly synthesized DNA strand close to the region of damage.

2. Double-strand breaks

Double-strand breaks, in which both strands in the double helix are severed, are particularly hazardous to the cell because they can lead to genome rearrangements. The cell will die in the next mitosis or in some rare instances, mutate. Three mechanisms exist to repair double-strand breaks (DSBs): non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), microhomology-mediated end joining (MMEJ), and homologous recombination.

We told you this is complex stuff!



Our skin cells have built-in protective mechanisms that use DNA repair enzymes, which are molecules that prompt chemical changes to repair UV damage. Scientists can now encapsulate such enzymes in lipid envelopes (liponanosomes) so that they can be topically applied, allowing them to penetrate the skin and supplement its natural protective abilities. Topically applied DNA repair enzymes can reverse free radical damage caused by UV exposure and decrease the number of gene errors (mutations) that can lead to cancers. Although these enzymes are not FDA approved for the prevention of skin cancer, evidence suggests they can prevent precancerous lesions such as actinic keratoses.

Supportive articles are below.

Photoprotection by topical DNA repair enzymes: molecular correlates of clinical studies. Photochem Photobiol. 1999 Feb;69(2):136-40.

A new approach to photoprotection is to repair DNA damage after UV exposure. This can be accomplished by delivery of a DNA repair enzyme with specificity to UV-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers into skin by means of specially engineered liposomes. Treatment of DNA-repair-deficient xeroderma pigmentosum patients or skin cancer patients with T4N5 liposome lotion containing such DNA repair liposomes increases the removal of DNA damage in the first few hours after treatment. In these studies, a DNA repair effect was observed in some patients treated with heat-inactivated enzyme. Unexpectedly, it was discovered that the heat-inactivated T4 endonuclease V enzyme refolds and recovers enzymatic activity. These studies demonstrate that measurements of molecular changes induced by biological drugs are useful adjuvants to clinical studies.

Reversal of DNA Damage in the Skin with DNA Repair Liposomes. Toxicology Volume 193, Issues 1–2, 15 November 2003, Pages 3-34

UV radiation damages DNA within skin cells. This is not a problem so long as there is efficient repair. With excessive, chronic exposure to sunlight, the repair pathway in skin cells becomes overwhelmed allowing for photoproducts to persist and be passed on in subsequent generations of cells, leading to errors in DNA replication, ultimately leading to some cancers.DNA damage caused by UV radiation is in constant repair with an intrinsic repair pathway.

This pathway consists of five steps including the following: 1) recognition of DNA lesion, 2) incision of the damaged strand on both sides of the lesion, 3) removal of the damaged oligonucleotide (DNA material), 4) synthesis of a patch, and 5) insertion of the patch.The importance of this pathway in protecting against skin cancer is illustrated by considering individuals with the hereditary disorder xeroderma pigmentosum (XP). Individuals with XP have a mutation in one of several genes involved in the repair pathway, which involves the products of at least 20 genes. XP patients have a 2000-fold increased risk of skin cancer.

DNA repair enzymes: an important role in skin cancer prevention and reversal of photodamage–a review of the literature. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Mar;14(3):297-303.

The incidence of skin cancer continues to increase annually despite preventative measures. Non-melanoma skin cancer affects more than 1,000,000 people in the United States every year.1 The current preventative measures, such as sunscreens and topical antioxidants, have not shown to be effective in blocking the effects of UV radiation based on these statistics. The level of antioxidants contained in the majority of skin creams is not sufficient to majorly impact free radical damage. Sunscreens absorb only a portion of UV radiation and often are not photostable. In this review article, we present the novel use of exogenous DNA repair enzymes and describe their role in combating photocarcinogenesis and photoaging. Topical application of these enzymes serves to supplement intrinsic DNA repair mechanisms. The direct repair of DNA damage by endogenous repair enzymes lessens rates of mutagenesis and strengthens the immune response to tumor cells. However, these innate mechanisms are not 100% efficient. The use of exogenous DNA repair enzymes presents a novel way to supplement intrinsic mechanisms and improve their efficacy. Several DNA repair enzymes critical to the prevention of cutaneous malignancies have been isolated and added to topical preparations designed for skin cancer prevention. These DNA repair enzymes maximize the rate of DNA repair and provide a more efficient response to carcinogenesis.

Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA repair mechanisms. Archives of Dermatological Research. March 2010, Volume 302, Issue 2, pp 71–83

Epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies have implicated solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation in various skin diseases including, premature aging of the skin and melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Chronic UV radiation exposure-induced skin diseases or skin disorders are caused by the excessive induction of inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage, etc. The use of chemopreventive agents, such as plant polyphenols, to inhibit these events in UV-exposed skin is gaining attention. Chemoprevention refers to the use of agents that can inhibit, reverse or retard the process of these harmful events in the UV-exposed skin. A wide variety of polyphenols or phytochemicals, most of which are dietary supplements, have been reported to possess substantial skin photoprotective effects. This review article summarizes the photoprotective effects of some selected polyphenols, such as green tea polyphenols, grape seed proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, silymarin and genistein, on UV-induced skin inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage, etc., with a focus on mechanisms underlying the photoprotective effects of these polyphenols. The laboratory studies conducted in animal models suggest that these polyphenols have the ability to protect the skin from the adverse effects of UV radiation, including the risk of skin cancers. It is suggested that polyphenols may favorably supplement sunscreens protection and may be useful for skin diseases associated with solar UV radiation-induced inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage.

Topical application of preparations containing DNA repair enzymes prevents ultraviolet-induced telomere shortening and c-FOS proto-oncogene hyperexpression in human skin: an experimental pilot study. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 Sep;12(9):1017-21.

The exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is one of the most important risk factors for skin aging and increases the risk of malignant transformation. Telomere shortening and an altered expression of the proto-oncogene c-FOS are among the key molecular mechanisms associated with photoaging and tumorigenesis. Photolyase from A. nidulans and endonuclease from M. luteus are xenogenic DNA repair enzymes which can reverse the molecular events associated with skin aging and carcinogenosis caused by UVR exposure. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether the topical application of preparations containing DNA repair enzymes may prevent UVR-induced acute telomere shortening and FOS gene hyperexpression in human skin biopsies. Twelve volunteers (Fitzpatrick skin types I and II) were enrolled for this experimental study, and six circular areas (10 mm diameter) were marked out on the nonexposed lower back of each participant. One site was left untreated (site 1: negative control), whereas the remaining five sites (designated sites 2-6) were exposed to solar-simulated UVR at 3 times the MED on four consecutive days. Site 2 received UVR only (site 2: positive control), whereas the following products were applied to sites 3-6, respectively: vehicle (moisturizer base cream; applied both 30 minutes before and immediately after each irradiation; site 3); a traditional sunscreen (SS, SPF 50) 30 minutes before irradiation and a vehicle immediately after irradiation (site 4); a SS 30 minutes before irradiation and an endonuclease preparation immediately after irradiation (site 5); a SS plus photolyase 30 minutes before irradiation and an endonuclease preparation immediately after irradiation (site 6). Skin biopsies were taken 24 h after the last irradiation. The degree of telomere shortening and c-FOS gene expression were measured in all specimens. Strikingly, the combined use of a SS plus photolyase 30 minutes before irradiation and an endonuclease preparation immediately after irradiation completely abrogated telomere shortening and c-FOS gene hyperexpression induced by the experimental irradiations. We conclude that the topical application of preparations containing both photolyase from A. nidulans and endonuclease from M. luteus may be clinically useful to prevent skin aging and carcinogenesis by abrogating UVR-induced telomere shortening and c-FOS gene hyperexpression.

Topical DNA Repair Enzyme May Prevent Skin Cancer. Oncology, May 1, 2001; Vo.10; Issue

In a phase III clinical trial of 30 patients with xeroderma pigmentosum, use of a topically applied DNA repair enzyme (T4N5 liposome lotion) for 1 year reduced the incidence of basal cell carcinoma by 30% and actinic keratoses by 68%, compared with placebo. The lotion contains a bacterial DNA repair enzyme, T4 endonuclease V, encapsulated in a pH-sensitive engineered liposome for delivery into living cells. When delivered intracellularly, this enzyme increases the repair rate of sunlight-induced DNA damage in cells.


The list of DNA enzymes commercially available is long, with surprising specificity on the precise chemical reaction each enzyme is capable of enhancing.

  1. coli Endonuclease III (Catalog # 4045-01K-EB; 4045-05K-EB)
    Specificity: Releases bases damaged by UV light, ionizing radiation, osmium tetroxide, or acid. Catalyzes the excision of cis- and trans- thymine glycol, 5,6-dihydrothymine, 5,6-dihydroxydihydrothymine, 5-hydroxy-5-methylhydantoin, 6-hydroxy-5,6-dihydropyrimidines, 5-hydroxycytosine and 5-hydroxyuracil, 5-hydroxy-6-hydrothymine, 5,6-dihydrouracil, 5-hydroxy-6-hydrouracil, AP sites, uracil glycol, methyltartronylurea, alloxan, and urea.
    Research Application: Radiation, oxidation, and UV damage
  2. coli Fpg (Catalog # 4040-100-EB)
    Specificity: Catalyzes the excision of multiple forms of damaged bases, including 8-oxoguanine, 5-hydroxycytosine, 5-hydroxyuracil, aflatoxin-bound imidazole ring-opened guanine, imidazole ring-opened N-2-aminofluorene-C8-guanine, and open ring forms of 7-methylguanine.
    Research Application: Radiation and oxidative damage
  3. coli MutY DNA Glycosylase (Catalog # 4000-500-EB)
    Specificity: Acts with Fpg to prevent the potentially mutagenic consequences of 8-oxo-dG lesions. Catalyzes the removal of adenine from 8-oxo-dG:A mis-pairs to initiate base excision repair.
    Research Application: 8-oxo-dG:A mismatches and oxidative damage
  4. Human OGG1 (Catalog # 4130-100-EB) Specificity: Catalyzes the removal of 8-oxoguanine and DNA-containing formamidopyrimidine moieties. 8-oxoguanine mis-pairs with adenine during replication and gives rise to G:C to T:A transversions. Research Application: Radiation and oxidative damage
  5. PARP High Specific Activity(Catalog # 4668-100-01; 4668-500-01) Specificity: Modifies proteins post-translationally by poly ADP ribosylation using nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) as a substrate. Poly ADP ribosylation of proteins occurs by the addition of an ADP-ribose to glutamic acid residues. Research Application: Assessment of damaged DNA, measurement of PARP inhibition, identification of PARP inhibitors or activators
  6. thermoautotrophicum TDG (Catalog # 4070-500-EB) Specificity: Recognizes T:G mismatches in duplex DNA and cleaves the strand with the T, while the opposite strand is not cleaved. It also recognizes G:G mismatches if at least one of the neighboring bases is an adenine or a thymine and nicks one strand or the other.
    Research Application: T:G, G:G mismatches and deamination of 5-methyl-cytosine

Below: a list of enzymes commercially available from one vendor only.


  1. Rima says:

    So what do you suggest? Is there a well formulated product and if so, please can you name the vendor?

    • drgeorge says:


      BFT can make no particular recommendation as to which of the following products to purchase since we have no direct experience with any of them. We will be looking into the relative merits of the several DNA repair enzymes mentioned, along with others with scientific proof of efficacy, for consideration as use as active ingredients in a skin “repair” product under development. We are convinced that skin protection against solar damage is a two-step process: 1) protect against UV exposure, and 2) counteract potential solar damage with antioxidant and DNA repair strategies.

      PHOTOZYME – DNA repair enzymes include:

      1. Micrococcus Lysate
      2. Plankton Extract (“Photosomes” which are liposomes containing photolyase from Anacystis nidualans.)

      PRIORI (Cellular Recovery) DNA Enzyme Complex

      “Three different natural liposome encapsulated DNA repair enzymes from botanical and microbial sources”

      1. Micrococcus lysate (see above under Photozyme)
      2. Plankton Extract (see above under Photozyme)
      3. Arabidopsis Thaliana Extract (base excision repair enzyme – see snips below)

      NEOVA DNA Total Repair

      1. Micrococcus lysate
      2. Plankton Extract
      3. Arabidopsis Thaliana Extra (base excision repair enzyme – see above under Priori)


      Contains Candle Tree Extract (Cassia alata) Peptide

      Claims are made on the website (Australian company founded by MD) that there are DNA repair ingredients, naming Candle Tree Extract. BFT could not find PubMed collaboration although the study below does show significant anti-oxidant value when used on skin.

      Complementary effects of antioxidants and sunscreens in reducing UV-induced skin damage as demonstrated by skin biomarker expression. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2010 Jun;12(3):157-62.

      Other studies

      Endonuclease from Micrococcus luteus Which Has Activity Toward Ultraviolet-Irradiated Deoxyribonucleic Acid: Purification and Properties J. Bacteriol. April 1970 vol. 102no. 1 178-186
      ABSTRACT An endonuclease purified ∼3,200-fold from Micrococcus luteus is active on native ultraviolet-irradiated deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), but is inactive on unirradiated native or denatured DNA and has no activity toward irradiated denatured DNA. The major type of lesion for the nucleolytic activity is the cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer. The enzyme makes a number of single-strand breaks approximately equal to the number of dimers, but dimers are not excised. This endonuclease—a small molecular weight protein—therefore has all the attributes hypothesized for the first enzyme in the sequential steps in repair of DNA in vivo. Another paper shows that the endonuclease is able to reactivate ultraviolet-irradiated transforming DNA.

      Endonuclease from Micrococcus luteus Which Has Activity Toward Ultraviolet-Irradiated Deoxyribonucleic Acid: Its Action on Transforming Deoxyribonucleic Acid J. Bacteriol. April 1970 vol. 102, no.1 pg 187-192
      ABSTRACT An endonuclease purified from Micrococcus luteus makes single-strand breaks in ultraviolet (UV)-irradiated, native deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The purified endonuclease is able to reactivate UV-inactivated transforming DNA of Haemophilus influenzae, especially when the DNA is assayed on a UV-sensitive mutant of H. influenzae. After extensive endonuclease action, there is a loss of transforming DNA when assayed on both UV-sensitive and -resistant cells. The endonuclease does not affect unirradiated DNA. The results indicate that the endonuclease function is involved in the repair of biological damage resulting from UV irradiation and that the UV-sensitive mutant is deficient in this step. We interpret the data as indicating that the various steps in the repair of DNA must be well coordinated if repair is to be effective.
      A Novel Approach to Simulate a Charge Transfer in DNA Repair by an Anacystis nidulans Photolyase. Open Biochem J. 2014 Mar 7;8:35-43
      Abstract An Anacystis nidulans photolyase enzyme containing two chromophore cofactors was simulated for a photoreaction DNA repairing process via molecular dynamics (MD) method. A novel approach has been introduced for the electron transfer between the FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide; flavin) molecule and CPD (cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer). This approach involves four simulation stages with different charges for the FAD and CPD fragments and a role of a charged state of the active cofactor was qualified during the MD modeling. Observations show that flavin has actively participated in a charge transfer process, thereby involving the conformational changes of the DNA and CPD substrate fragment. The DNA conformation behavior has shown to correlate with the electron transfer from flavin to CPD. This is manifested on the similarities of the DNA repairing process by excision repair of the UV photoproducts.
      Reduced ultraviolet-induced DNA damage and apoptosis in human skin with topical application of a photolyase-containing DNA repair enzyme cream: clues to skin cancer prevention. Mol Med Rep. 2012 Feb;5(2):570-4.

      Abstract The exposure of human skin to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) results in the formation of DNA photolesions that give rise to photoaging, mutations, cell death and the onset of carcinogenic events. Photolyase (EC is a DNA repair enzyme that reverses damage caused by exposure to UVR. We sought to investigate whether addition of photolyase enhances the protection provided by a traditional sunscreen (SS), by reducing the in vivo formation of cyclobutane-type pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) and UVR-induced apoptosis in human skin. Ten volunteers (Fitzpatrick skin type II) were exposed to solar-simulated (ss) UVR at a three times minimal erythema dose for 4 consecutive days. Thirty minutes prior to each exposure, the test materials [vehicle, SS (sun protection factor 50) alone, and SS plus photolyase from Anacystis nidulans] were applied topically to three different sites. One additional site was left untreated and one received ssUVR only. Biopsy specimens were taken 72 h after the last irradiation. The amount of CPDs and the extent of apoptosis were measured by ELISA. Photolyase plus SS was superior to SS alone in reducing both the formation of CPDs and apoptotic cell death (both P<0.001). In conclusion, the addition of photolyase to a traditional SS contributes significantly to the prevention of UVR-induced DNA damage and apoptosis when applied topically to human skin.

  2. Rima says:

    Is it Neova? The DNA repair cream uses liposomes but hard to tell from the ingredient list. I will look into it more. Thank you for the article.

  3. Kraig says:

    There’s a product called “Osmosis Catalyst AC 11” claiming that it utilizes a zinc finger technology to promote DNA repair. It also has added AC11. Supposedly it uses a zinc finger precursor. Is this snake oil or promising?

    • drgeorge says:

      Look as we might, PubMed, Google Scholar, and general Google searches return no scientific publications about Catalyst AC 11. What is returned with a Google search is gobs of sites selling this product, or favorably comparing it to other products. As far as zinc fingers go, BFT readers are likely not aware of them so we took the liberty of pasting some paragraphs (with minor revisions to make them clearer) from Wikipedia.

      Proteins are masters at “folding”, i.e. conforming themselves according to positive and negative charges along their length into a structure that “neutralizes” charge disparities to the greatest extent possible. When zinc ions (which has a valence of plus 2) are incorporated to stabilize the fold, they are called “zinc fingers”. It originally was discerned to describe the finger-like appearance of a hypothesized structure from Xenopus laevis transcription factor IIIA, The zinc finger name has now come to encompass a wide variety of differing protein structures, all of which have ionic zinc incorporated into their folded structure.

      A particular zinc finger protein’s class is determined by this three-dimensional structure, but it can also be recognized based on the primary structure of the protein or the identity of the ligands (protein chains) coordinating with the zinc ion. In spite of the large variety of these proteins, the vast majority typically function as interaction modules that bind DNA, RNA, proteins, or other small, useful molecules, and variations in structure serve primarily to alter the binding specificity of a particular protein.

      Since their original discovery and determination of their structure, these interaction modules have proven ubiquitous in the biological world and may be found in 3% of the genes of the human genome. In addition, zinc fingers have become extremely useful in various therapeutic and research capacities. Engineering zinc fingers to have an affinity for a specific sequence is an area of active research, and zinc finger nucleases and zinc finger transcription factors are two of the most important applications of this to be realized to date.

      So, yes, zinc fingers do play a role in DNA repair throughout both the animal and plant kingdoms. They’re ubiquitous. The Osmosis website makes declarative statements about their efficacy and product superiority but is utterly silent in providing scientific detail about exactly what they are, what they do, and how they do it in their products. Hardly surprising, it’s the most common method of presenting science in the skincare industry. There’s extremely little risk of consumers firing off detailed questions. Who, except PhD’s in the field can challenge what the marketers say? No one else has the scientific chops to delve into the blather and separate wheat from chaff, or “snake oil” from something “promising.”

      BFT welcomes those with the details on this and other Osmosis products to chime in. We’re always in favor of learning something new and interesting.

  4. Budihaci Petronel says:

    I want to purchase Skinmedica dermal repair due to the ingredients. The problem is the package, it’s a jar. With so many antioxidants, it will not oxides quickly every time I open it?

    • drgeorge says:

      That’s a reasonable question to ask, and precisely for the reasons you pose. Antioxidants have a “job”, which is to neutralize or “mop up” molecules that are hungry for electrons, exactly what oxygen, reactive species, and free radicals all have in common – they all seek electrons from the molecules near themselves, with negative effects to the molecules that involuntarily “donate” their electrons. The choice of container is interesting because ambient oxygen in the air will have ready access to the antioxidants in the formulation. Jars are cheap; airless pumps are not. The rate at which the jar is intended to be depleted may also be part of the decision of what container to use. If used up fast, meaning one is dipping into relatively “fresh” product with each application, perhaps the deeper product is protected by the overlying product (in theory, at least.) For best preservation of antioxidants, an airless pump would be preferable.

  5. Samantha Peppers says:

    Hi! l was wondering at what point Cellese might be projected to produce its own product involving DNA repair enzymes? I have tried Neova DNA Repair but found that it gave me acne, so am looking for a non-comedogenic alternative with a high proportion of active ingredients and have hope that your team will be able to come up with something as excellent as the current AnteAGE line!

    • drjohn says:

      Hi Samantha. Your question is timely. After two years of research & development, we are now starting final formulation & testing of a unique acne treatment. Approaches acne not with a single ingredient, but with 16 bioactives each aimed a different part of the acne puzzle. We are excited! Stay tuned.

  6. francine says:

    I tend to ask many more questions to skincare companies because of my 25 years in medical esthetics. I find many companies unable to provide very specific information about carriers, specific ingredients, ‘proprietary’ blends, growth factors, zinc fingers, etc. I also find many plant stem cell formulations which makes me really not trust the company to be honest. I would like your opinion about using a DNA repair product, A retinol product, and an EGF product together? Depending upon which company you are speaking to most of the answers are different and confusing. Is this the most ‘magic’ formula available today. Daytime is of course a sun block and an anti-ox.

    • drgeorge says:

      The concept of a “magic” formula raises our eyebrows. No such thing. There is sound science and rational ingredient combinations, and there is hype, pseudoscience, voodoo and outright nonsense. Unfortunately, there is too little of the former and too much of the latter.

      DNA repair enzymes, retinol and EGF all have substantial research describing the pros and cons of their use on skin. We have written about them elsewhere on BFT. Be mindful, in particular, that the body never produces a single cytokine or growth factor in isolation; they are always present in the dozens although certain ones may predominate at one time or another. We tend to focus on the inflammatory / anti-inflammatory balance in our approach to anti-aging prophylaxis and regeneration. Of your three specific ingredients, use of EGF as a single bio-signal concerns us the most – nature does not work that way.

      We specifically like, formulate and produce combination products where several prongs of attack are used to manage a problem. Our bodies are basically bio-chemical factories where thousands of reactions are occurring simultaneously in the interior and exterior of the many trillions of cells that comprise each of us. Research has discovered and now understands many of these cascades of reactions. We now have good comprehension about the bio-chemical/physiological processes responsible for skin and mucosal wound healing, inflammation, pigment production, hair follicle function, acne eruptions, collagen production and remodeling and much more. That makes it possible to create products that approach problems from several points of attack. That’s where we focus our attention.

    • drjohn says:


      Retinol has been a popular anti-aging ingredient in beauty products for decades, prompting this view: “Retinol is so 1980s.” On the one hand it has accumulated a lot of evidence for efficacy. On the other hand, we now have a better understanding of how it works. And by the way, it has side effects that are not desirable like dryness, peeling, shiny skin. Interesting you bring up EGF – recent evidence suggests retinoids work by reducing stress-induced oxidative damage (e.g. from sun) that leads to degraded collagen & elastin which promotes wrinkles, and that they do so by stimulating EGFR (EGF receptor) production via EGF. Conditioned medium of ex vivo retinol-treated and non-stressed human skin (or fibroblasts in culture) produces an increased protein expression of epidermal growth factor (EGF). What is also true is that you can get some of the same side effects if you apply EGF alone (rather than in combination with other GFs & cytokines). All of this is to say that maybe EGF and retinol are actually overlapping.

      As to rational combinations, I would argue that it should be based on a particular skin care strategy. The role of DNA repair is to fix problems that your sunscreen didn’t prevent (oxidative damage from sun radiation & chemicals). That should be combined with barrier enhancement & moisturization, cytoprotection ingredients, favorable biome enhancement, anti-inflammatory pro-growth biosignals, and metabolic support. Which ingredients are best have to do with individual variables (age, lifestyle, climate, pollution exposure, past “bad” (inflammatory) skin care leading to chronic fibrosing inflammation and lipolysis (facial volume loss due to breakdown of fat in dermis)’ glycemic damage resolution, and replacement of bad collagen and elastin with the good versions (youthful regeneration – as opposed to the senescent variety).

      A brand new strategy that will soon be available selectively removes senescent (troublemaking) cells from dermis & epidermis, allowing their replacement with freshly minted ones. More on that soon.

  7. Budihaci Petronel says:

    Recently I was looking at the ingredients in my sunscreen and noticed at the bottom of the list are Micrococcus lysate, plankton extract and Arabidopsis thaliana extract. Is it important to include these ingredients for my sunscreen to work? Or, am I fine with just antioxidant serum and sunscreen?

    • drgeorge says:

      You have a very good product if those ingredients are included along with sunscreen ingredients.

      Eons of evolutionary pressure required organisms exposed to solar radiation to develop effective protective and reparative strategies. Science has discerned which organisms have particularly well-developed defenses, enabling formulators to use their extracts to enhance the benefits of sunscreen products, or create post-sun exposure repair products.

      Micrococcus lysate is derived from the organism Micrococcus luteus, which is one of the most UV-resistance organisms known to science. Norwegian researchers in 2013 found a M. luteus strain that synthesizes a pigment that absorbs wavelengths of light from 350 to 475 nanometers. Exposure to these wavelengths of ultraviolet light has been correlated with an increased incidence of skin cancer, and scientists believe this pigment can be used to make a sunscreen that can protect against ultraviolet light. Additionally, micrococcus lysate, plankton extract and Arabidosis thaliana extract all contain enzymes (endolase and photolyase), helpful in repair of solar damaged DNA.

      BFT is convinced that skin protection against solar damage is a two-step process: 1) protect against UV exposure and 2) counteract potential solar damage with antioxidant and DNA repair strategies. If products provide both components, all the better.

  8. Sam says:

    I came across Dr. Ronald Moy’s line which includes a product with DNA repair enzymes as well as EGF derived from barley. What do you make of this? Would using another source of EGF simultaneously with AnteAGE compromise positive results?

  9. Dione Trochei says:

    I am interested in trying a DNA Renewal serum from one of the manufacturers mentioned in BFT but have a concern about the source of the plankton and the possibility of radioactivity in the ocean that may contaminate the marine plankton. I tried to find out more information on the plankton extract used in this product without results. I’m wondering whether you know if I should be concerned over the possibility of radioactivity or other impurities in plankton given the continuous influx of radioactive compounds being released into the ocean from Fukushima, Japan for over a period of years. I’d appreciate your view. Thanks in advance.

  10. drgeorge says:

    This is one of the more interesting questions we have ever received, but I think you have no reason to worry. Researchers from two Japanese universities sampled and measured radionucleo-tides from the North Pacific Ocean in the months following the Fukushima nuclear plant explosion. 800 water samples and 80 samples of plankton were analyzed throughout the North Pacific from Japan to the United States. The only radionucleotide with an undisputable relationship to the nuclear reactor is cesium 134, the level of which in natural seawater is zero. The half-life of this radioisotope is relatively brief at 2.1 years. Levels in plankton were quite low but above zero. The levels disperse quickly and decrease the more distant from the accident site. We see no radiation risk from using topical skin products with plankton based ingredients.

    Dispersion of artificial cesium-134 and -137 in the western North Pacific one month after the Fukushima accident

    Fukushima radioactivity diluted in the Pacific makes tracing ocean currents possible

  11. Dione Trochei says:

    Thank you so much for providing the above information to my question, but now I have a new concern. One of the main producers of a DNA Reversal/Repair skincare product that you have mentioned in your article has responded to my question stating: “…you have no worries with our plankton extract and here’s why: …Given that and the fact that Phytoplankton is incredibly important to the ocean ecosystem, our researchers have chosen to source it biomimetically — which simply means it is synthesized in a lab but mimics the structure and function and mechanism of the natural form…”

    Subsequently, my new concern/question is whether “synthesized phytoplankton” is as or more effective for DNA Repair as marine plankton based ingredients and whether there are any after effects for utilizing synthesized phytoplankton? Please respond again before I purchase such a product. Thank you again for your time.

  12. drgeorge says:

    Phytoplankton are microscopic marine algae. They provide a food source for a wide range of sea creatures. Phytoplankton, also known as microalgae, are similar to terrestrial plants in that they contain chlorophyll and require sunlight in order to live and grow. The three types are:
    • Diatoms. These consist of single cells enclosed in silica (glass) cases.
    • Dinoflagellates. This name refers to two whip-like attachments (flagella) used for forward movement. …
    • Desmids. These freshwater photosynthesisers are closely related to green seaweeds.

    If, indeed, “synthesized phytoplankton” has been created in the laboratory, scientists have create life. We don’t think that’s an accurate statement. What can be accomplished, is the creation of simple constituent molecules, not the organism itself. It these folks have created life, a Nobel prize for science should soon follow. To the best of our knowledge, they have not been nominated for one and we’re not holding our breath.

    We say balderdash. Don’t believe it.

  13. Philip Ingle says:

    My son has xeroderma pigmentosum. Is there a ‘best’ product to help repair damage or protect from damage?

    • drgeorge says:

      As you well know, this is a particularly difficult condition for those afflicted and their families. So our readers can learn from your inquiry, a synopsis follows.

      Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a genetic disorder in which there is a decreased ability to repair DNA damage including that caused by ultraviolet (UV) light. Severe sunburn may occur after only a few minutes in the sun. There is typical freckling in sun-exposed areas, dry skin, and an increase in skin malignancies. The DNA repair that normally occurs after exposure to UV light does not occur in this autosomal recessive condition. There is no cure. Complete avoidance of the sun with measures to prevent exposure such as protective clothing, sunscreen, and dark glasses should be worn whenever in the sun. Retinoid creams are used to help decrease skin cancer risk and vitamin D supplementation is generally required. We have no specific recommendation but strongly urge close consultation, supervision, and management by qualified specialists for this serious and unfortunate dermatologic condition.

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