Tattoo No More!
Painless tattoo removal from a cream in a week? This concept is apparently leaving the realm of the future and may soon be a viable option for those looking to erase their regrets like they never existed. A PhD student in pathology at Dalhousie University, Alec Falkenham, was working on a chemical compound intended to heal heart tissue and realized this may have an application for tattoo removal. To understand how this would work, let’s look a little at the science of how a tattoo becomes permanent in the first place. It is actually quite fascinating.
“Needles filled with ink pierce your skin many thousands of times, injecting the pigment into your skin. Your body instantly reacts to this assault, and sends out its repair agents to heal your wound. Ironically, it’s actually this immune response that allows the tattoo to become permanent.
Special white blood cells, called macrophages, come into the area to clean up the debris. After gobbling up the pigment, some of these cells make it back to your lymph nodes, where the junk is processed and expelled. But some of these cells get stuck, still full of ink, in the gel-like matrix under the top layer of skin. Because the pigment has been consumed by your cells, your body no longer considers it a foreign object and stops fighting to get rid of it. So it just hangs out there, visibly flooding your inner skin with color.”
Falkenham developed this cream that penetrates the skin and selectively targets macrophages. When these specific macrophages die, others come along to clean up the cells eventually eliminating all cells containing the ink. Brilliant! What is most interesting and exciting to me here is how this may be adapted for other skin conditions. Since this process centers on an autoimmune response, how could it be applied to autoimmune conditions of the skin? Fascinating and perhaps the beginning of a whole new skin care approach for things like psoriasis and eczema?
This treatment is supposed to be relatively inexpensive too (treating a small patch of skin should cost under 5 dollars!). Cipher Pharmaceuticals purchased the formula so it will be up to them to run the clinical trials and get it out to market. With about 25% of the American adult population adorned with tattoos, I’m sure there will be more than a few eager customers. I have always wanted one but just couldn’t decide what! So that aside, I am still eager for this product to make its’ way down the pipeline just for its’ potential for other applications. Viva la Future! Gotta love science 🙂