SynFlora is working on bioengineering a skincare revolution

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Biotech startup SynFlora brought an enticing pitch for a new type of skin treatment technology to 4YFN at the MWC tradeshow in Barcelona this week. The Spanish startup, whose three co-founders all have PhDs, is working to improve understanding of the skin’s microbiome and engineer skin microbes with the goal of enabling more targeted and novel therapeutics.

The basic idea is to deliver treatments in a deeper way than topically applied creams, such as is the case with current-gen ‘active’ skincare products — but also to design and engineer a wider range of treatments by using biotech methods to harness bacteria to deliver targeted therapeutics.

“We are creating a base of a new skin product which is not anymore just molecules, which can’t enter the skin because they’re topically applied — it’s really like a molecular machine,” says co-founder and CEO Nastassia Knōdlseder. “A bacteria which can move inside the hair follicle, like deep inside the skin, and produce new [effects].”

The team’s early research “proof of concept” work is focused on acne — and it’s recently published a paper on its experimental treatment delivery approach in the journal Nature Biotechnology (on a test of a “sebum modulator” in an engineered skin microbe in mice) — but they envisage the approach being applied to tackle a much wider range of issues. Including things that range well beyond what we might consider skincare.

Potential use-cases they mention could include mosquito repellant or fat loss (a cream for making cellulite disappear anyone?), per Knōdlseder, or even vaccines and anti-inflammatory treatments.

“We have the potential triggering the immune system or creating vaccines against melanoma, for example,” she suggests. “We have the possibility of the production of anti-inflammatory molecules.”

“We see this really like as a platform,” she adds, confirming the team has patents for different indictions of the technology and for the platform itself. “We really don’t want to limit to one use-case.”

SynFlora is still at an early stage — they’re in the process of raising a seed round, per Knōdlseder — and will obviously need to satisfy regulators of the safety and efficacy of their novel bioengineered mechanism for delivering therapeutics deeper into the dermis before the tech will be able to reach consumers.

But the co-founders suggest they could be between one to three years away from their novel system powering a new generation of skin-delivered therapeutics.

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