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Study: Retin-A Helps Sun-Wrinkled Skin Make Collagen

August 19, 1993

BOSTON (AP) _ Scientists say they have figured out how Retin-A smooths out wrinkles: It helps make collagen, a tough protein that gives healthy skin its strength and resiliency.

The researchers treated volunteers with the prescription lotion for a year and found that it nearly doubled their collagen production.

They said their work suggests that Retin-A’s effect on sun-damaged skin ″is not simply cosmetic but rather based on active repair of dermal collagen.″

Until now, researchers were unsure how Retin-A works.

The study, conducted at the University of Michigan, confirms earlier findings of collagen repair in laboratory mice treated with Retin-A.

The findings were published in today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Its senior author, Dr. John J. Voorhees, was a consultant to Johnson & Johnson, which paid for the study in part. Retin-A is made by Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp., a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.

The researchers first tested skin samples from 26 volunteers and compared the level of collagen in their sun-damaged forearms and their tan-free behinds. They found that collagen formation was 56 percent less in their arms than in their bottoms.

Next, they gave Retin-A or look-alike dummy cream to 29 men and women with sun-wrinkled arms. After 10 to 12 months of treatment, collagen formation increased 80 percent in skin treated with Retin-A, and decreased 14 percent in the comparison group.

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