In the News

March 19, 2003

Companies Team up for Genetic Skin Care

NORWALK, Conn. ," These days it seems as though just about everyone is looking for a "magic elixir" that promises to repair the ravages of age and provide eternal youth. Although one special potion might never be available to cure all aging-related woes, at least one skin-care ingredient line shows great potential.

Arch Personal Care Products L.P., a unit of Norwalk, Conn.-based Arch Chemicals Inc., announced its intention to begin collaborative efforts with Margate, N.J.-based GeneLink Inc. to market genetic skin-care formulations. The formulations contain active skin-care ingredients that can be linked to GeneLink's testing system for determining an individual's genetic skin characteristics.

The customizable formulations, which feature a family of active ingredients called "SNP-Derms" (single-nucleotide polymorphism-based), are designed to address some of the individual genetic characteristics that accelerate skin aging and wrinkling, as well as other skin-related oxidative stress deficiencies.

The companies began the skin-care collaboration in 2001. Vince Gruber, director of research and market development for South Plainfield, N.J.-based Arch Personal Care, said the research partnership actually sprung out of a visit to a local Dunkin Donuts.

"I was reading my local paper," said Gruber, "and the Courier News has a small snippet in it [saying] GeneLink had just filed patents covering the use of their genetic testing for skin. It caught my eye."

Based on what he read, Gruber got in touch with John DePhillipo, GeneLink's CEO, and ended up meeting with several company representatives and a few organizations with which GeneLink was collaborating at the time ," Orchid BioSciences and an SNP "hunter" from the University of Pennsylvania.

"We were very interested in Gene-Link's [technology] because we saw it as an opportunity for really customizing personal-care ingredients that focused ," almost like a laser beam ," on a person's [genetic makeup]," said Gruber. "We were coming to GeneLink with a battery of active ingredients that we already had provided, and many new ones that we were working on. We saw this GeneLink technology as a way for us to really focus our efforts on key areas in the skin."

Under the collaboration, said Gruber, Arch Personal Care began to put together SNP-Derms, active ingredients that provide an answer to SNP markers identified through GeneLink's Dermagenetic Profile Assessment. The assessment measures an individual's resistance to skin aging, skin irritation and tissue breakdown.

"Oxidative stress is something we're always under," emphasized Gruber. "Our bodies are capable of handling oxidative stress ," that's what the markers look for. We have specific genetic messengers that help us to protect ourselves, but what the GeneLink test has been able to find is that not all of us are running optimally in all the different areas. The test will tell you as a person what areas you really need support in and which areas you are doing fine in. It's unlike anything anyone has ever seen before," he added.

Although the companies are working on the formulations' marketing channels ," such as personal-care and cosmetic manufacturers ," they view the customization process as being "beautiful in its simplicity," noted Gruber. The customer would swab the inside of his or her mouth and mail the swab to GeneLink. From there, the swab would be bar-coded, put under confidence and then tested by a qualified outside laboratory. The laboratory would be looking for the fives SNPs ," or markers ,"identified thus far.

"What they'd send back [to the customer]," Gruber explained, "is a report card, basically, that tells you whether you are optimum in your protection in each of the five areas. Green, yellow and red are the colors we use for the optimum, middle and suboptimum categories ," and we haven't met anyone yet who's green in all of them."

The markers, said Gruber, cover two oxidative stress SNPs, one photoaging SNP, one skin irritation SNP and one environmental-pollutant related SNP. The test results would be provided to the manufacturer of the final product to customize that lotion, cream or other formulation for each individual's unique deficiencies.

"Our ultimate goal is to have the technology and the process become a commercial success," said Gruber. "To do that, of course, our immediate goal right now is to work with some manufacturers of finished products."

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Kathie Canning


OIT Releases New Version of Steam System Tool

WASHINGTON ," The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT) announced the release of a Visual Basic version of its steam-system scoping tool.

Designed to help steam system energy managers and operations personnel profile and grade steam system operations and management, the tool also is offered in a Microsoft Excel version. According to OIT, the tool helps plants evaluate steam system operations against best practices.

OIT said it is collecting results from a number of chemical, petroleum and other "Industries of the Future" plants, and publishing the summary results on its BestPractices Steam Web site at

CP Staff


Industry Groups Commit to Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions

WASHINGTON ," During the recent launch of President Bush's "Climate VISION (Voluntary Innovative Sector Initiatives: Opportunities Now), the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and other industry associations pledged to support the president's greenhouse-gas emission reduction goals during the next decade. Climate VISION is a voluntary public,"private partnership focusing on cost-effective initiatives to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

ACC, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and other industry groups joined Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Whitman and others at the event's launch in Washington.

API, which committed to a 10 percent improvement in the efficiency of its member oil refineries by 2012, said refinery efficiencies would curb the industry's production of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide.

"The president has the right idea on climate change," said Red Cavaney, CEO and president of API. "We are committed to using our new technologies to help him meet his goals."

ACC developed and submitted to the White House a 12-point program for meeting the president's goal. The council said its member companies would not only step up their own efforts to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions, but also "help other industries reduce their energy needs through new chemical-based products and technologies."

However, ACC also urged the administration and Congress to remove outdated regulatory obstacles ," and to take the necessary legislative actions ," to speed greenhouse gas reductions.

Tom Gilroy, a spokesperson for the council, told Chemical Processing that adjustments being made to EPA's New Source Review program would allow facilities to reduce greenhouse gas intensity. However, he said ACC would like to see more consistent enforcement among the regulatory agencies and fewer regulatory and legislative roadblocks that could hinder widespread combined-heat-and-power system (cogeneration) applications. "There's also some tax barriers [that need to be addressed] ," the on-and-off-again nature of the research and development tax credit," he added.

Climate VISION is a response to the Clear Skies initiative launched by President Bush last year. As part of that initiative, the president challenged U.S. industry to help meet his goal of an 18 percent reduction in greenhouse gas intensity over the next decade.

Kathie Canning


Cargill To Accelerate Biobased Materials Development

MINNEAPOLIS ," In a move it terms good news for industry, Cargill Inc. said it would accelerate its development of specialty chemicals, polymers and other industrial products made from renewable agricultural resources. The company said it would be leveraging its current technologies in food and feed products, developing new platforms specifically targeted at industrial products and creating alliance partnerships to add capabilities and increase market access.

"The key growth area for biomaterials is the conversion of natural plant oils and carbohydrates into chemistries that have the potential to provide functionality beyond petrochemicals at a similar cost, noted Fritz Corrigan, Cargill executive vice president. Cargill has "access to a secure, reliable and sizable renewable resource feedstock," he said, and well as "expertise in bioprocessing and understanding of practical applications for synthetic chemistry."

Bill Brady, a spokesperson for Minneapolis-based Cargill, said the company's primary focus is on developing "chemical building blocks" that can be used for a wide range of industrial bioproducts. "For example," he said, "we are working with the U.S. Department of Energy to pursue development for 3-hydroxypropionic acid, a product which will extend the range of organic acids that Cargill produces by fermentation."

Although Cargill currently has biomaterials refineries around the world and is a significant force in oilseed processing and fermentation, it also said it would be seeking out new alliances with chemical companies and technology providers "to strategically develop and bring to market new chemical platforms."

"We are talking to companies large and small in the chemicals and plastics industries," said Brady. "We believe that we are strong in technological capability and in the sourcing of abundant feedstock for these new products; therefore, an ideal alliance partner would have access to and knowledge of the end markets we would be seeking."

Kathie Canning


NAM Launches Strategy for Manufacturing Renewal, Growth

WASHINGTON ," In an effort to help heal the ailing manufacturing sector, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) recently launched its national Strategy for Economic Growth and Manufacturing Renewal. According to NAM, the strategy summarizes a resolution adopted by its board.

"Manufacturing is at a crossroads," said Archie Dunham, chairman of NAM and ConocoPhillips. "It lags the rest of the economy, and its recovery from recession is a sluggish 1.7 percent."

Among other actions, NAM is calling for tax policies that "encourage and reward capital investment," a reduction in "unnecessary regulations," an improved energy policy and a trade policy "that levels the global playing field for American manufacturers."

The association also is calling on President Bush to appoint an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental blue ribbon commission. That commission, said NAM, would "propose a strategy and plan of action [for manufacturing]."

Laura Brown Narvaiz, a spokesperson for NAM, told Chemical Processing that association representatives have been talking with senior-level administration officials. At press time, NAM was getting the formal resolution ready to send to the president.

Narvaiz said NAM has not yet focused on any specific objectives to be accomplished by the proposed blue ribbon commission. "We just want to get the concept on the table and get them to focus more on manufacturing," she emphasized. "[We would want them] to bring about the right kind of pro-growth policies we need to help manufacturing in the short and long term."

Kathie Canning

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