Viper room: Is snake venom the cure for wrinkles?

Talk about poison control. Snake venom inspires the latest anti-aging treatment.

Nov 02, 2010
Dana Tye Rally
Viper room: Is snake venom the cure for wrinkles?

The venomous strike from a Southeast Asian temple viper can kill a mouse in seconds. Now, the seriously lethal poison with the power to paralyze on contact has inspired a new needle-free way to fight wrinkles. Does this mean bye-bye, Botox?

Four years ago, the scientists at Swiss-based pharmaceutical brand Pentapharm—the keepers of a Brazilian snake farm used for medical testing—discovered a link between anti-aging and the paralysis-inducing properties of temple-viper venom. If the viper could send its victims into a permanent stupor with its venom, they reasoned, perhaps the same science could be used to tame crow’s feet and forehead furrows. So they developed SYN-AKE, a topical synthetic tripeptide that mimics the protein in venom responsible for inhibiting neuromuscular activity. When applied to the skin, SYN-AKE relaxes the “frowning and grimacing” muscles that lead to deep wrinkles.

Clinical tests with 45 women over 28 days showed that SYN-AKE reduced the depth of crow’s feet by at least eight percent and forehead lines by as much as 52 percent, reports Eric Lippay, senior skin-care marketing manager for DSM, which owns the Pentapharm brand. “Still, it’s synthetic,” he says. “Snake venom was only the inspiration.” Nonetheless, this faux poison is a hit with the Botox-shunning celebrity set. Clients of the Sonya Dakar clinic in Beverly Hills line up for snake-venom facials, while Hollywood gossip sites proclaim Gwyneth Paltrow’s and Fergie’s affection for Dakar’s UltraLuxe-9 Age Control Complex ($190), a SYN-AKE-infused skin cream. And it’s popping up in other skin-care products too. Canada’s own Euoko has already charmed 22 countries worldwide with its signature snake-venom cream— Y-30 Intense Lift Concentrate—which sells for $525 a jar. Meanwhile, Rodial’s Glamoxy Snake Serum ($195) launched waiting lists of more than 100,000 people hoping to get their hands on a bottle before it hit U.K. department stores in February.

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