World-renowned scientists in the field of animal venoms have discovered a small protein in venom with similar properties to botulinum toxin (Botox®). But this small protein possesses one great advantage: it does not need to be injected and can be used in a cream.
The Geneva-based scientists discovered that a molecule from the venom of the Heteropoda davidbowie spider acts on the appearance of the skin. This peptide has a unique capacity to block a specific nerve signal and lead to instant muscle relaxation, resulting in an immediate anti-wrinkle effect, as demonstrated by preliminary tests made on a few volunteers. Their goal is to achieve clinical beauty.
A spider named davidbowie
The story starts in 2008, when Reto Stöcklin, entrepreneur and world-renowned expert in venoms, learnt that a new spider had been discovered and named Heteropoda davidbowie. This was not a spider from another planet, as might be hoped for by fans of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, but from Malaysia.
The biochemist from Geneva, a lifelong fan of the English singer, could not resist the temptation to study this spider more closely. Launching research projects into the venom of this spider, he supervised the doctoral studies of a young scientist and together they investigated the many molecules in the venom of this Asian spider, harmless to man. The scientific team identified 136 toxins and when they discovered that one of them, named HDB243 (for Heteropoda davidbowie) was particularly promising for use in a cosmetic.
HDB-243 has similar properties to botulinum toxin and confers an instant smoothness on the skin. However, in contrast to botulinum toxin, it does not need to be injected as it directly acts on a receptor found at the skin surface. A single application of the cream is enough to remove wrinkles.
For the next verse to be written after these first promising notes, Reto Stöcklin and his team launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. They hope to raise at least USD 25,000 in order to synthesise the HDB-243 peptide, develop an exclusive cream formulation, perform tests (irritability and safety in particular) and ensure the effectiveness of the molecule on humans. They will then launch a range of Swiss high-end instant moonlight cosmetics for women and for men, utilising local business skills.
The largest collection
of venoms in the world
Following their discovery, the team have created “matoxine,” the cosmetic branch of Geneva-based biotech company, Atheris SA. Atheris SA are specialists in animal venoms with over 20 years’ experience. Internationally reputed, they possess the largest collection of venoms in the world and have created a database of more than 50,000 molecules identified in venom. They have also contributed to the discovery of several new drug candidates (notably to treat gluten intolerance, multiple sclerosis and pain) and have actively participated in the development of three cosmetic ingredients which are today commercialised with success.