Revolutionary skin-conforming material platform holds promise for drug delivery and skin disease

May 9, 2016, Cambridge, MA – Olivo Labs, the pioneering company formed to address unmet needs in the dermatological field through proprietary biomaterials technology, today announced that scientists from its lab joined together with others to publish a paper describing a novel polymer platform in Nature Materials doi:10.1038/nmat4635. The skin-conforming silicone-based polymer has the mechanical properties matching that of youthful skin while enabling additional designs in other properties such as serving as a barrier protection to minimize water loss, creating opportunities in both the aesthetic and medical markets, particularly in the area of drug delivery.

The publication, “An Elastic Second Skin,” comes after more than five years of research in which the scientific research team tested more than 100 different polymers with the goal of replicating healthy skin. The silicone-based material (XPL) upon which the Olivo platform is built can now be engineered to adjust for flexibility, elasticity, breathability, invisibility, and water resistance. Ultimately, XPL could be used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and other dermatitis, and provide long term sun protection from UV by incorporating SPF ingredients.

“Developing a second skin that is invisible, comfortable and effective in holding in water and potentially other materials presents many different challenges, which we are now able to address,” said Dr. Robert Langer, Olivo co-founder, MIT Institute Professor, and corresponding author of the paper. “We are extremely excited about the opportunities that are presented as a result of this work and look forward to further developing these materials to better treat patients who suffer from a variety of skin conditions.”

In the publication, researchers describe studies performed on humans to test the material’s effectiveness in terms of wearability, prevention of water loss, and safety. In wearability, the XPL material outperformed two commercial wound dressings with respect to flexibility, elasticity, thickness and visibility. In moisturization (hydration) and water loss, XPL exhibited statistically less water loss and more skin-hydration than high-end commercial moisturizers.

Additionally, no skin irritation was observed in these tests. “This ‘skin conforming’ platform brings with it transport properties that have significant promise to treat underlying conditions,” said Dr. Rox Anderson, Harvard Professor, Olivo co-founder, and Dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. “For eczema or sun protection as examples, this second skin platform can then serve as a reservoir for control- release transdermal drug delivery or SPF ingredients, a possibility we are currently pursuing in our lab.”

The study was published today as an Advance Online Publication on Nature Materials website. Authors include: Betty Yu, former Vice President at Living Proof; Robert Langer, Institute Professor, MIT; Daniel Anderson, Associate Professor, MIT; Rox Anderson, MGH; Barbara Gilchrest, MGH; Fernanda Sakamoto, MGH; Soo-Young Kang, Living Proof; Morgan Pilkenton and Alpesh Patel formerly of Living Proof; and Ariya Akthakul, Nithin Ramadurai, and Amir Nashat of Olivo Laboratories. 

About Olivo Labs Olivo Laboratories was founded to target unmet needs in the dermatological field and provide solutions to skin- related medical conditions through proprietary biomaterials technologies. Spun out of Living Proof, Olivo Labs’ lead technology, the XPL platform, was developed in collaboration with Rox Anderson at the Wellman Center (Harvard-MGH), and Bob Langer and Dan Anderson at Langer Lab (MIT), and Polaris Partners. The company seeks to create benchmark solutions through perfectly engineered products with a focus on medical and cosmetic problems.