Dr Iona Weir looked to nature’s own incredible biochemical processes – and her extensive research into the differences in plant and human apoptosis (programmed cell death) and immunology pathways – to create the powerful, multi-faceted botanical ferment Myrecil® – the foundational ingredient of Atopis skin creams.
Plants, bacteria and insects signal to each other using peptides (amino acids) and proteins. The bacteria in your gut produce proteins which are detected by micro receptors on your gut wall and turn on different functions in response. The bacteria have identical receptors and these are also activated by the food that you eat. So they all work in a feedback loop with each other. Your skin cells work in the same way!
Within nanoseconds of being activated, plants can turn on different biochemical pathways in
response to environmental factors such as UV light or toxins. Dr Weir’s area of scientific expertise is in producing plant stem cells by activating pathways for totipotency – as in, turning a normal leaf cell back into an embryonic cell after it’s damaged. This is what we do with Myrecil® – we activate the plant stem cells pathways to produce compounds that promote incredible skin cell renewal and regeneration.
Over 30 years as a bioscientist Dr Iona Weir has conducted hundreds of thousands of in vitro assays (controlled scientific tests performed outside an organism) making a series of scientific breakthroughs.
Primarily Iona’s background in and understanding of the biological process of apoptosis has underpinned the technology behind Atopis’ key ingredients. Apoptosis is defined as programmed cell death, a natural function of aging and Iona was the first person in the world to prove this process could actually be reversed in plants.
Conversely apoptosis cannot be reversed in humans and too much or too little of it plays a huge role in skin disorders and premature aging. Once apoptosis is triggered in human cells the cell is committed to death, whereas a plant cells defence mechanisms protect against then reverse the early stages of the apoptosis pathway.
Dr Iona Weir figured out these mechanisms of plants could be used to control the cell death rate and modulate immune responses in cells.
Myrecil®, and all the other extracts in Atopis are completely new – created by us to be the most potent, to provide as much benefit to human skin as possible. That is the real difference between Atopis and other brands – we don’t settle for some diluted plant extract made the usual way, instead we use ground breaking science to literally harness the power of nature.
Iona primarily used a technique called flow cytometry (which involves using laser technology to look inside cells and see how they respond) to analyse the effect of a variety of botanical extracts on human cells.
These experiments were designed to stress human cells and test plant extracts. The results led Iona to identify the most bioactive plant extracts which protected human cells. These extracts have been used in the formulation of Atopis skin creams.
Iona also used flow cytometry to discover probiotic bacteria that could potentially help skin and study their interaction with human cells.
She then went on to use the scientific technique of Confocal Fluorescence microscopy (viewing cells with a microscope treated to fluoresce under UV light) to investigate the interaction between skin cells and this bacteria. Using this technique she proved the cells were affected positively by the probiotic bacteria.
Iona infected skin cells with Staph. Aureus – the potent bacteria which causes pimples – and found that when using her proprietary probiotic bacteria and natural extracts, the bacteria was unable to live on the skin cells.
Iona also conducted wound healing assays – these were tests where she damaged skin cells and then measured the time it took to heal. She measured the healing time of the cells alone, versus the cells combined with her natural extracts which prove the extracts enhanced skin cell rejuvination and renewal.
All of this work in steps 1-4 was the precursor to the real invention which was manipulating the plant cells to produce what was needed for the human cells.
After Iona had screened thousands of New Zealand’s unique botanical extracts her results pointed her to the most bioactive ones with the potential to help human skin.
Next came the real challenge: figuring out how to manipulate these plant cells to produce exactly what compounds were needed to protect human cells!
This was a very involved process – for example: to protect skin against UV light, Iona had to figure out how to turn on the UV defence pathway in the plant cells, then capture the protective bioactive molecules produced.
Iona spent 5 years manipulating the plant cell pathways of apoptosis, plant defence and cell differentiation to find the valuable molecules that she used to invent her patented Myrecil® extract – which has the power to modulate human apoptosis.
After inventing Myrecil®, Dr Weir then undertook two clinical trials, to prove that Atopis skincare products are effective.