Thursday, February 6, 2014

Camel's Milk in Skin-Care Products

Fresh camel's milk (Wikipedia)
Earlier this week I was listening to NPR's Morning Edition, in which they talked about Penelope Shihab and her biotech company, MONOJO. She founded the company in Jordan, but has since moved to Missouri, where she is starting a company that works on skin-care products. The thing that sets her and her skin-care products apart are the use of camel's milk in this process. The use of camel's milk as a cosmetic product is nothing new; there are plenty of soaps and creams on the market, and it's even claimed Cleopatra bathed in camel's milk. People already knew about the vitamins found in camel's milk, which has led to it being consumed in the Middle East and other parts of the world. However, what sets the product apart is the biotech background. Rather than simply making a cosmetic product, the scientists at MONOJO looked to combine this mix of vitamins, the antibodies, and proteins in camel's milk to create a product that would help skin-care, namely acne.

Penelope Shihab with samples of
her acne cream (Kristofor Husted/NPR)
From the skin-care side, the scientists found that the milk did contain several antibodies and proteins that helped to fight off infections and keep skin healthy. However, what they found that brought them above simply a soap or cream for your skin, was that these antibodies in camels milk were, "very stable against ... high temperature, and against high acidity." Because of this, they decided to test the product on acne, where they found the milk to be more successful than other methods. The higher stability of the proteins allowed the product to stay over the inflammation longer, which in turn helped the body's immune system to naturally fight the acne present. This acne fighting ability of the product, combined with the skin-care benefits already well-known of camel milk, make the product an interesting one in the large marketplace that is skin-care and beauty products.

What makes Penelope particularly interesting is her background and history and how she came to where she is now. In the Middle East, particularly in Jordan, starting a biotech company, let alone having it run by a a woman and having her act as the CEO of that industry, is almost unheard of. The creative process she followed was initially one of discovery. Much of MONOJO's initial research came in researching antibody production, especially in products that they knew, such as camel's milk. The research started back in 2005, but the idea for the product was not something that was immediate. Once she and her scientists came to research the antibodies and proteins in camel's milk, then came the idea to create a product for skin-care. From there led to trying to solve the problem that is acne. Her knowledge of the consumers in the Middle East led her to look to create an American business, where she works at Colombia University in Missouri, and has created the Skinue company.

For more information, the Morning Edition story can be found here, and the original story from NPR member-station KBIA in mid-Missouri can be found here. In addition, the Skinue official site can be found here, where you can find the products she offers and more details about the company.

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