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Q10 Research | Expert Interview

25 Years of Q10 Innovation Power and a Great Deal of Scope

Discovering new things, establishing correlations, and having the opportunity to improve people’s lives – many researchers are driven by this all their lives. Among them are Dr. Thomas Blatt, Principal Scientist, Skin Biology, and Dr. Julia Weise, laboratory manager in the Biological Testing department at Beiersdorf. The two of them are interested in the topic of skin aging and the question as to whether the biological clock can be visibly turned back. Q10 has an important part to play here. Beiersdorf has been using the coenzyme produced by the body in its skin care products for 25 years, making it a pioneer once again. In our interview, the scientists give an insight into the successes of Q10 skin research as well as the latest findings:

A quarter of a century of Q10 innovation power – what does this mean to Beiersdorf?

Thomas: The coenzyme was discovered back in 1957, but Beiersdorf scientists were among the first to investigate the effects of Q10 in skin cells in the 1990s. Pioneering work of this kind is always something special, especially when the research leads to concrete applications. NIVEA was the first brand to launch a Q10 skin care product in the mass market in 1998. Today, we are proud of our more than 25 years of intensive Q10 research, our good reputation in professional circles, and, of course, a large number of highly effective antiaging products.

What exactly is Q10 and what role does it play in our bodies?

Julia: Coenzyme Q10 is found in every last cell and is vital for converting nutrients and oxygen into valuable energy. With regard to our skin, it also serves as a strong antioxidant. As such, Q10 is able to neutralize free radicals that are harmful to our skin and cause premature skin aging. We now know that our skin cells’ Q10 level diminishes over the years. This is where we come in. We want to thoroughly understand the correlations in order to replenish the skin with Q10 in the form of care products and maintain the self-regeneration processes.

And you’re obviously successful.

Julia: Yes, we now have an entire formula platform and combinations with other active ingredients which are particularly effective when put together, like vitamin C and creatine. In our latest innovation, we combine pure Q10 with what are known as Bioxifill® peptides. The skin-friendly, high-performance combination helps improve even stubborn wrinkles in delicate facial areas.

Successes like these also thrive on scientific dialogue. Who are your important partners in the area of Q10 research?

Thomas: The International Coenzyme Q10 Association, or ICQA for short, which was founded in 1997, is hugely important. We have been involved in it from the beginning and belong to its close circle of experts. Scientific professionals from all over the world pool and share their latest findings, data, and expertise in the research association across the board of disciplines and research fields. From the circle, we cooperate with, for example, Luca Tiano, who is a professor at the university in Ancona and an ICQA Board member. It was together with him and his scientists that our team proved that the loss of Q10 causes skin cells to biologically age. This contributes causally to skin aging and also weakens the connective tissue.

Julia: We can tackle an issue wherever we precisely understand the key functions and can contribute to achieving targeted improvements in skin cell vitality. In the case Thomas mentioned, we used a cell model to also prove that skin cells can be rejuvenated if we replenish the Q10 deficit. In 2022, we visually substantiated that Q10 really does make it to where it’s supposed to go, together with the DESY research center, the University of Hamburg, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP). Using X-ray fluorescence imaging technology, we succeeded in visualizing the cellular uptake of added Q10 in skin cells for the first time and the coenzyme’s pathway. Scientifically speaking, this was a minor sensation. Other disciplines can build on this, too, including for the treatment of cancer, Parkinson’s, or diabetes.

Where do you think the progress in antiaging care is taking us and what potential does Q10 offer?

Thomas: The topic of skin aging always goes hand in hand with the hope of a breakthrough on the path to eternal youth. But new research findings keep presenting us with new questions. This suggests that modern developments may be the start of an entirely new era. We are endeavoring to continuously improve our understanding of the skin’s metabolic processes and often find out the unexpected. This is what makes research so exciting and interesting. To be able to care for skin gently and deeply effectively, you first need to have a very precise understanding of it. And this is what we are doing, learning a little more every day and getting even better at supporting the skin in performing its natural functions – even in old age. In this context, coenzyme Q10 continues to be relevant as it is still not fully researched. I firmly believe there’s still a great deal of scope here.

Julia: What I find the most fascinating is that it’s not only skin aging that you can combat with Q10. The coenzyme contributes to approximately 95 percent of our body’s entire energy production, so it offers leverage points for holistic well-being. This makes its research so special and offers scope for new and exciting projects.

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Kathrin Erbar

About the editor: Kathrin Erbar

Kathrin takes us on a journey to the fascinating field of research and development at Beiersdorf. Before exploring Beiersdorf’s DNA, she was doing the communication for HR related topics, such as diversity, leadership or New Work. She also used to be responsible for financial communications at Beiersdorf for several years.