Applying bacteria to your face may not seem like the most effective way to improve your skin and yethas set out to do just that.
The AIM-listed life sciences company is initially targeting the cosmetic skin care market with its microbiome skin-health technology, however, it has plans to use the applications in anti-infectives and dermatological indications (eczema).
It turns out the bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microbes that make up the microbiome, are very useful to the body - among many other things, they programme the immune system, provide nutrients for our cells and prevent colonisation by harmful bacteria and viruses.
The microbiome is an exciting and growing area of science, with research continuing to emerge. SkinBioTherapeutics was in fact formed as a spin-out from the University of Manchester, with the scientific discoveries forming its proprietary SkinBiotix® technology, thanks to the work of CEO Dr. Catherine O'Neill, and Professor Andrew McBain.
SkinBiotix® uses extracts taken from beneficial bacteria and has been shown to enhance moisturisation, prevent infection and improve skin barrier function. It began human trials for the cosmetic applications of Skinbiotix technology in September, after passing multiple key cytotoxicity tests. Most notably, however, it has successfully demonstrated that the lysate can be freeze-dried and scaled-up to industrial levels.
The global skin care product market generated revenues of $136 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to reach $194 billion by 2024, according to Allied Research. This is driven largely by rising demand for natural skin care products and a growing emphasis on personal health, especially in the developing countries of Asia Pacific.
The company hopes to tap into some of this vast market share, and major FMCG and cosmetic companies have already expressed interest in its proprietary technology. One major global consumer goods company entered into a material transfer agreement in April this year (standard agreement enabling it to access the technology), which if successful, can be a precursor to future commercial arrangements.
Although it is in its early stages of development, the company may have an early mover advantage in the potentially high growth market of probiotic skin health. Since 2010, microbiome companies have attracted around US$840mln in equity investments globally, according to Northland Capital.
Shares in SkinBioTherapeutics were trading at 16.75p each
The main element of the human study is set to begin later this month, which will comprise of 120 volunteers to analyse the longer-term moisturisation effects and impact on skin barrier function of the SkinBiotix® technology in more depth. Cosmetic studies are shorter than drug trials, which usually leads to a shorter path to commercialisation.
Northland Capital noted, “The completion of the human study is a key inflection point”. Should the data provide further proof of effectiveness, the cosmetic applications can be labelled ‘dermatologically tested’ and allowing SkinBioTherapeutics to pursue more commercial discussions with potential partners.
The Company is well positioned to take advantage if studies prove successful, as the Board has experience in fund-raising and early phase corporate development in life science listed companies, so far continuing to deliver on its objectives since IPO.
With a £19m market cap and a potential early mover advantage, opportunistic analysts and investors will be following the SkinBioTherapeutics story closely.
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