Important Mechanism for Skin Protection Discovered

Skin cells can protect themselves against stress even faster and more holistically than previously thought. Beiersdorf researchers Dr. Janosch Hildebrand and Dr. Marc Winnefeld succeed in proving the existence of this important mechanism together with cooperation partners from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH). The results of the four-year research project have been published in “Molecular Cell” – one of the most highly renowned scientific journals for cell biology.

Beiersdorf researchers Dr. Janosch Hildebrand (l.) and Dr. Marc Winnefeld
Beiersdorf researchers Dr. Janosch Hildebrand (l.) and Dr. Marc Winnefeld

Skin Cells Benefit from their Metabolism

“The question of our research project was: How do skin cells use the metabolism to protect themselves against UV-induced or oxidative stress?” says Project Manager Janosch Hildebrand. “We discovered a previously unknown mechanism: the ‘First Line Response.’ It enables skin cells to counteract stress caused by, for example, solar radiation or oxidative stress within minutes.”

This mechanism is important because it delivers key molecules to the cell which are needed for acute detoxification and repair. In order to understand this mechanism and to holistically analyze skin metabolism, the scientists used a new metabolomics technology that enables them to examine over 800 metabolites simultaneously. 

New Technology Combines Skin Biology and Computational Science

“In addition to the new technology, systems biology analysis tools were also used,” says Marc Winnefeld, Head of the Lab for Special & Aged Skin. “By using these techniques we were able to investigate the complex relationships between biological processes like metabolic pathways and repair mechanisms. Here, we were able to analyze big data sets by combining biology and computational science.”

Trustful Collaboration with External Partners

“We are really happy about the fruitful collaboration with ETH Zurich,” says Marc Winnefeld. “This kind of demanding analysis is only possible through the expertise of external partners. With this dedicated and trustful open-innovation approach, Beiersdorf has always succeeded in working with excellent scientists from renowned institutes.”

Beiersdorf began the cooperation with ETH Zurich in 2011 and worked on the subject as part of a PhD thesis. “The interdisciplinary way of working – both in the collaboration with ETH Zurich and here at Beiersdorf – was essential for the project’s success. Therefore I’d especially like to thank Dr. Hila Emmert, Dr. Frank Fischer and Dr. Stefan Gallinat,” says Janosch Hildebrand. 

High-Level Publication in Scientific Journal “Molecular Cell”

The publication of the results of the research project in the scientific journal “Molecular Cell” is a great honor for the research team, “This journal is one of the most prestigious in this discipline,” says Winnefeld. “And the journey continues: the project results will be used to develop new strategies to protect skin cells against stress and to treat environmentally-induced skin aging.”

Press Contact

Corporate Communications
Beiersdorf AG
Unnastrasse 48
20245 Hamburg, Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 40 - 4909 2001