Kutanios is a biotech start-up founded by two Oxford University medical scientists: Chief Executive Officer, Dr Irina Miller, and CSO Professor, Norman Miller.
The company has developed a unique mechanism to mitigate the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays and air pollution by targeting the skin’s lipid peroxides.
Professor Norman Miller is a leading lipoprotein expert and was part of the team that discovered the link between high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and protection against heart disease. This was published as the HDL hypothesis in The Lancet medical journal in 1975.
Miller’s further studies on the role of HDL led to his research on lipid peroxides and their harmful effects on the skin.
“There is a lot of scientific literature and medical literature on the effects of lipid peroxides in biology, but also, in particular, on the effects on the skin. They reduce the synthesis of elastin in the skin and are an important cause of DNA damage. Miller explained.
“There’s a lot of evidence that they’re a factor in skin aging and its cosmetic changes, also that they’re a major factor in causing skin cancer, sunburn, and even acne.”
Given the prominence of suncare and anti-aging in APAC’s giant skincare market, Miller told us it was vital to the start-up. “The APAC market is the biggest one. For skin care it represents perhaps 50% of the world market.
It is already in talks with a leading distributor of personal care chemicals in the APAC region, who believe Lipoxerase has huge potential here in the sunscreen, anti-aging and anti-acne markets.
Additionally, Miller revealed that the company is working on developing its own DTC skincare brand that will feature Lipoxerase as the lead ingredient. “We want to develop our brand especially for e-commerce and that would include APAC as well.”
At present, the company has not reached the production stage and hopes to start pilot production in Switzerland by the second quarter of next year.
It is also seeking funding, which will help the company go commercially by the end of 2023.
Fat peroxides: cause for concern?
Lipid peroxides are constantly produced from the natural oils in our skin and its production is greatly increased by sunlight and air pollution.
Miller found that the level of lipid peroxides in human skin is nearly 30 times that predicted by the level in blood. While their effects are significant, there is currently no technology on the market that addresses this issue.
He also noted that despite the increase in sunscreen sales, skin cancer has continued to rise globally. “There is a lot of evidence that lipid peroxides are important in causing skin diseases, skin aging, sunburn, acne and even skin cancer.
Miller discovered that HDL proteins bind lipid peroxides and thus prevent their harmful effects.
“They have a very high binding affinity for lipid peroxide. They seize them and in a sense dry them. And in that form, lipid peroxides are no longer active, they are no longer harmful.”
This led to the development of Lipoxerase, which peptides “to rake” lipid peroxides and making them harmless and ensuring their safe removal.
The company performed proof-of-concept studies with cultured fibroblasts and cultured keratinocytes in two separate research laboratories in Spain and France. He was able to prove that Lipoxerase could reduce all harmful effects of ultraviolet irradiation.
It can also boost collagen, protect elastin, reduce inflammation and protect DNA.
“We expected some DNA protection, because lipid peroxides are known to damage DNA and are the most important cause of skin cancer, and as you can see, we got pretty much 100% protection.” said Miller.
It has also completed a preliminary study of young adults with acne. After four weeks, she observed a significant reduction in severity. More research into acne and other skin conditions is currently underway