Five minutes with: Dr Bruno A. Bernard

The scientists at Lancome have recently made a groundbreaking discovery, finding that specific skin genes code the proteins that give the skin its youthfulness. The result of their research led to the development of Lancome’s latest product, GĂ©nefique Youth Activator, a serum formulated with active substances that relaunch the activity of certain genes whose expressions have swindled with age and thereby boost the synthesis of the proteins that characterise young skin. In short, they have found a way to reactivate the youthful qualities of aged skin.

L’Oreal Director of Research for Life sciences, Dr Bruno A. Bernard, discusses the science behind GĂ©nefique Youth Activator and the role that gene territory plays.

How did you become interested in gene territory?

Gene territories have become a major focus of scientific research. Since our particular field of interest is the specifics of healthy skin, we immediately concentrated on the expression of genes found in the skin and, in parallel, on identifying the proteins for which these genes code, especially those which present age-related differences.

Why did you decide to concentrate on genomics and proteomics?

We can use genomics and proteomics to take a totally fresh approach to studying all aspects of the genes and proteins expressed in the skin.

What is interesting about the genomic and proteomic approach?

These two approaches make it possible to look at the skin differentiation process both globally and dynamically. We have used genomics and proteomics to create a catalogue of protein markers in both young and mature skin and have been able to identify a series of markers which is particularly of interest from a biological viewpoint since it typifies young or mature skin.

What answers have the genomics studies given you?

In our studies we looked at the 4400 genes that have most relevance for the skin. We found that, in response to mechanical stimulation, 550 of these 4400 genes presented age–related differences in their expression. We were then able to identify a group of only 25 genes that make the difference between young and elderly subjects.

Why are the proteins in the stratum corneum interesting?

Identified at the surface of the skin, these biomarkers reflect global epidermal activity and, in particular, terminal differentiation processes. They not only form a sort of biological bar code, but some of them are also becoming novel biological targets.

From a total of 1300 protein spots, we were able to identify 700 different proteins, 80 per cent of which were detected in the stratum corneum for the first time, and 30 per cent in the epidermis. Now all we have to do is understand the role they play. However, we have already been able to prove that two proteins present at the surface of the skin, Calmodulin Like Skin Protein or CLSP and desmogleine 1, are permanent markers of young skin.

Why is it important to restore levels of these proteins?

These proteins are markers of terminal differentiation and of high quality intercellular cohesion in the epidermis – as such, they are indicators of skin quality and youth.

Why is it important to restore levels of these proteins?

These proteins are markers of terminal differentiation and of high quality intercellular cohesion in the epidermis – as such, they are indicators of skin quality and youth.

What happens to CLSP and Desmogleine 1 as we age?

Both of these proteins are highly representative of epidermal function, and both undergo changes over time; CLSP levels drop significantly and, as we age, desmogleine 1 is present in various different forms known as isoforms.

Could you give us a little bit more detail about these proteins?

We are particularly proud of CLSP since it was discovered and sequenced by our very own researchers. This protein plays an important role in epidermal differentiation, the process via which cells in the basement layer gradually change as they work their way towards the surface of the skin. CLSP levels decrease with age.

Desmogleine 1 appears during the epidermal differentiation process ; it is what is known as an adhesion protein and acts as a sort of cement binding keratinocytes together via specific structures called desmosomes.

How many people have worked on this project?

It is really more accurate to talk in terms of teams rather than numbers of individuals. To bring this project to fruition, our research teams have formed partnerships with other laboratories also specialising in these fields (Laval University, Quebec – Canada & Saint Louis University – Paris, France) – A total of about ten teams were involved in the project.

What are the next stages?

This approach breaks with tradition and has opened up a new era in the management of skin ageing. In the future, these discoveries will make it possible to offer women formulations that are increasingly well adapted to their real biological age.

Why are the proteins in the stratum corneum interesting?

Some aspects of skin, and these include the very skin structure proteins presented here today, are common to all races. However, we are currently conducting research into inter-ethnic specificities.



As the skin ages it loses its strength and elasticity while also losing its ability to stretch. This results in sagging, wrinkles, lines and furrows. The severity of these changes to your skin depends on genetic tendency, skin phototype (the amount of melanin pigment in the skin) and exposure to environmental factors.


Facial lines and wrinkles form because 
of the following factors:

– The ageing process

–  Sun damage

–  Gravity

–  Injury

–  Surgery

–  Acne

–  Other skin diseases that have 
a tendency to scar the skin

–  Smoking


As exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun accounts for 90 per cent of the symptoms of premature skin ageing, sunscreen is the most important skincare product to use to help prevent wrinkles, followed by anti-ageing formulas used in your day and night skincare regimen.


For an effective and long-lasting solution to treating deep lines and wrinkles 
we recommend the Neutrogena Healthy 
Skin Anti-Wrinkle Intensive skincare range. Each product contains an effective yet gentle concentration of retinol, 
which helps to fill in and smooth out deep wrinkles while improving the skin’s texture, tone and clarity.