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Ingredients & formulation

Startups look to annatto to treat atopic dermatitis

Two startups from Minas Gerais state are looking to annatto (also known as achiote), which is used by indigenous peoples of Brazil as medicine, to treat atopic dermatitis – a chronic skin condition that causes rashes and itching.

The companies, Profitus – which is affiliated with the Federal University of Viçosa – and Bioaptus – which is affiliated with the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) – are completing the last few steps to launch a 100% natural moisturizer containing annatto extract and aptamers. The manufacturers claim that these lab-produced, DNA-based antibodies firmly latch on to designated molecules, and behave like regular antibodies.

Annatto, raw material for the moisturizer created by the startups

Annatto, raw material for the moisturizer created by the startups

The new moisturizer aims to reduce skin inflammation. The aptamers developed by Bioaptus are designed to block the action of the molecules responsible for triggering skin inflammation, thus reducing the occurrence of atopic dermatitis flares. The annatto extract patented by Profitus claims to help control inflammation and repair affected areas. It targets the mechanisms that control the scarring process, stimulating epithelial cell growth and production of collagen and elastin, as well as protecting the skin from microorganisms.

Frequent moisturizing of the skin is key to treating atopic dermatitis, causing patients to spend heavily and regularly on moisturizers. The startups say the new moisturizer will be less expensive than comparable products currently available on the market and will offer an alternative to the corticoid-based products usually used to treat the condition.

A clinical trial to test product efficacy is underway with patients afflicted with atopic dermatitis. The product is expected to hit shelves by the end of the year. The partnership between Profitus and Bioaptus is supported by funding provided by the Brazilian Service of Support for Micro and Small Enterprises (Sebrae).

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