Here at Singularity Hub, we are just a little bit vain. Like, what’s the point of doing all this science and technology stuff if you’re not going to look good while doing it? Well, it’s high time that technology made us look prettier. Thankfully, researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have heard our call and noticed a peculiar coincidence that could eradicate our wrinkles and sun damaged spots much better than any store-bought product. Patients treated with a topical chemotherapy drug have shown that a side effect of treatment is wrinkle-free, ageless skin. Yes, toss out that cocoa butter and prepare for eternal youth through chemotherapy.
Think it’s a bit bonkers, using chemotherapy drugs to knock a few years off of the face? Well, it really is. The research published shows that the skin rejuvenation is a mere side effect. The initial intent of the study was to determine the efficacy of the drug Fluorouracil, which is used to remove pre-cancerous actinic keratoses: lesions that could cause cancer. Aside from the fact that most people willing to plunk down their dollars for this type of treatment would not actually have the actinic keratoses, patients in the trial experienced severe discomfort during and after the trial.
As the saying goes, you have to get worse before you can get better, and it indeed holds true for a pretty face. In fact, patients endured itchiness, redness and fiery irritation of their skin for weeks while the treatment was taking place. The topical ointment works in much the same way (albeit quite a bit cheaper) as laser therapy and chemical peels, intentionally destroying the outer skin layer in order to force the body to regenerate new and healthy skin. It is only after the weeks of pain and leprous looks that the clear and rejuvenated skin starts to show.
This painful method of treatment, however, did not fight off the seeds of vanity planted in the patients. Of the 21 tested in the Michigan study, 17 said that they would consider doing the treatment again solely for the purpose of improving the look of their skin. Of those, 11 claimed that they would even pay money for such a treatment. That’s great, right? No pain, no gain. Well, doctors are advising against marketing this drug as a beauty care product because of the high risk of severe reaction to the product. And the news gets even worse for those living in the European Union, where fluorouracil use is not allowed for cosmetic applications.
Don’t expect to see this anti-aging cream on the shelf at the local pharmacist anytime soon. The risks are just too high to make it an over the counter product. But there is some light to be shed through this shameful cloud of vanity that we have brought over ourselves. Man’s understanding of the body and its surrounding environment is ever increasing. This topical ointment might not be the cure to ageless skin, but the knowledge of such a mechanism can be further refined and may perhaps one day contribute to a safe and inexpensive way to get rid of wrinkles and sunspots. It’s not just about the big technological breakthroughs that rocket us forward into the next generation of technology, but the little things that add up to make a big impact. This new drug just so happens to be a little thing, but it’s still a pretty interesting way of learning about the body.