A specialty pharmaceutical company trialled a muscle-relaxant anti-wrinkle injection ingredient in a topical gel in a bid to develop the first-ever wrinkle treatment gel using this specific ingredient. The study was specifically to establish whether the gel could minimise crow’s feet wrinkles around the eyes. The gel did not work as researchers had hoped, failing to minimise crow’s feet.
Crow’s feet wrinkle treatments – Melbourne clinic
Crow’s feet wrinkles appear at the outer corner of the eyes in a fan-shaped pattern as we age. They may be called lateral canthal lines or periorbital wrinkles – a.k.a. laugh lines. The lines can sometimes start creeping down the cheekbones to the lower cheeks.
We develop these wrinkles due to repetitive motions like squinting and laughing, with factors that make it worse including sun damage and exposure to the elements. We tend to currently treat these wrinkles with anti-wrinkle injections, dermal filler, lasers and creams.
So how did this wrinkle treatment get to phase III trials if it doesn’t work?
The trial required the application of the wrinkle treatment gel onto the moderate to severe crow’s feet of 450 trial subjects on both sides of the face.
The theory behind using the neurotoxin topically was that it could absorb through the skin, affecting the muscles and nerves underneath the skin. The molecule of this treatment, however, is quite large, making absorption through the skin challenging.
So far, nobody has been able to bottle this particular wrinkle treatment, but the challenge is worth pursuing, since application via injection puts some people off. Having a cream or gel would be easier and cheaper for everyone.
The company invested significant resources into the technology that helps get the molecule across the skin barrier, however in this case it was not successful at completing its objective.
US clinical trials
The way the phases of clinical trials in the United States work is that the first phase is more about the ingredients than the effect they have on wrinkles, but the second and third are about demonstrating effectiveness.
Phase I clinical trials use a smaller number of people to establish that the ingredients won’t hurt you. Healthy subjects who are paid are used here.
Phase II clinical trials include testing out the product or device on real people who have the condition researchers are trying to treat, which in this case was moderate to severe crow’s feet. Something must have happened that seemed like it would be useful for crow’s feet in this trial to allow the product to go on to phase III trials, however it is not clear if the product worked, or only worked a little bit.
Phase III clinical trials is the last phase before a product can be sold to you, which is the phase that this product failed. It doesn’t work.
The trouble with skin creams
Creams and gels are problematic when trying to get ingredients into the skin, because our skin is designed to be a barrier to molecules – so nothing bad can get in and your insides can’t get out. This means that creams only have so much they can do for skin, and deeper treatments are required when talking wrinkle treatments to change the way the structures work together.
While it is not a good wrinkle treatment on its own, good quality skin cream is an excellent adjunct to deeper wrinkle treatments.
We’ve got all the wrinkle treatments you could dream of at our Melbourne clinic.