The Effects of Filtrate of the Secretion of the Cryptomphalus aspersa on Photoaged Skin

April 2013 | Volume 12 | Issue 4 | Original Article | 453 | Copyright © April 2013

Sabrina Guillen Fabi MD,a Joel L. Cohen MD,b Jennifer D. Peterson MD,c Monika G. Kiripolsky MD,d and Mitchel P. Goldman MDa,e

aGoldman, Butterwick, Fitzpatrick, Groff, & Fabi, Cosmetic Laser Dermatology, San Diego, CA
bAboutSkin Dermatology and DermSurgery, Englewood, CO
cDermatology Laser Surgery, Houston, TX
dSan Diego Skin & Laser, Carlsbad, CA
eDepartment of Dermatology/Medicine, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA

BACKGROUND: Growth factors (GFs) are chemical messengers that regulate specific cellular activities such as cell proliferation and formation of the extracellular matrix. GFs may be derived from a variety of sources, including animals.
OBJECTIVE: Evaluate the safety and efficacy of a topical antiphotoaging product containing secretions of the snail Cryptomphalus aspersa (SCA) for the improvement of facial rhytides.
MATERIALS and METHODS: This was a 2-center, double-blind, randomized, 14-week study in which 25 patients with moderate to severe facial photodamage were treated with an emulsion (with 8% SCA) and liquid serum (with 40% SCA) on one side of the face and placebo on the contralateral side for 12 weeks. Silicone skin impressions of periocular rhytides were performed at baseline and after 12 weeks of treatment. Patient and physician assessments were also performed at 8, 12, and 14 weeks.
RESULTS: Periocular rhytides on the active ingredient side showed significant improvement after 12 weeks (P=.03) and improved texture to a greater degree than placebo at 8 and 12 weeks, as well as 2 weeks after discontinuing the product (14 weeks).
CONCLUSION: Daily application of topical products containing SCA proved effective and well tolerated for improvement in coarse periocular rhytides and fine facial rhytides. Subjects noted a significant degree of improvement in fines lines at the 8-week time point on the SCA-treated side (P≤.05) but did not report a significant difference in the quality of their skin.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2013;12(4):453-457.


Skin’s mechanistic, protective, and restorative properties decline with age. Daily exposure to environmental stressors, including sunlight and pollution, accentuate the skin’s underlying inherent deterioration related to chronological aging. “Aged” skin (whether chronologically or photorelated) manifests as xerosis, loss of elasticity, atrophy, dyschromia, as well as fine and deep rhytides. The search for safe, noninvasive treatments to reverse these pathophysiologic changes associated with aging skin remains challenging.
Growth factors (GFs) are chemical messengers that regulate specific cellular activities such as cell proliferation, chemotaxis, and formation of the extracellular matrix.1 They may be derived from a variety of sources, including humans, animals, microbes, as well as yeast and plants.2 Topical GFs have emerged as a therapeutic modality harnessed for aesthetic and medical uses. As our understanding of the mechanisms of action behind these powerful GF compounds increases, so does our ability to fully apply the benefits associated with these mechanisms in the clinical setting.
While there is documentation that GFs derived from human sources provide some benefit in wound healing and repair of photodamage, there are also concerns of potential deleterious side effects, including tumorigenesis.3-5 Because of these concerns, scientists have long considered nonhuman sources for GFs. One successfully yoked animal-derived GF, the secretion of the snail Cryptomphalus aspersa (SCA), was discovered by Rafael Abad Iglesias MD, a radiation oncologist treating radiation dermatitis.6 It was noted that several species of mollusk retract their tentacles when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light and x-rays. When this defense mechanism was further explored, a biologically active glycosaminoglycan secretion was found to be generated by the snail during times of stress. The secretion is composed of a combination of contributions from the snail’s mucous, salivary, and proteic glands. SCA stimulates biochemical, structural, and functional processes and can regenerate damaged structures of the animal’s skin in less than 48 hours. Figure 1 reveals SCA-related anatomy.
SCA has since been processed into a topical product (Tensage; Biopelle, Inc, Ferndale, MI, manufactured by Industrial Farmaceutica Cantabria, SA) with proclaimed antiphotoaging effects. Through a patented process, snails are stimulated and their secretions are collected. These secretions are then filtered for purity and tested for consistency. Of note, snails are not harmed during this process, considering that secretions produced during snail