New research shows that it may be possible to eliminate wrinkles and rejuvenate the skin by controlling concentrations of a protein in the skin.
The RHAMM protein - which stands for Receptor for Hyaluronan Mediated Motility - has been found to play an important role in regulating the signalling of fat cells during tissue repair.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab carried out tests on mice and found that, by blocking the production of this protein, they were able to cause the production of fat cells to replace those lost during natural ageing.
The team believes that their findings could one day lead to a new form of non-surgical cosmetic treatment that does not involve injections of neurotoxins - such as Botox - or invasive procedures.
Mina Bissell, a cell biologist at Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division, commented: "This technique could be developed as a means of providing a non-surgical approach for normalising skin appearance after reconstructive surgery, for wrinkle reduction, and for face lifts and figure enhancement."
Eva Turley, an oncology professor at the University of Western Ontario, added that unlike existing non-surgical treatments, "a localised injection of a RHAMM inhibitor should produce long-lasting skin volumising effects and would not involve muscle paralysis, which means there would be no loss of expression if it were to be injected into the face".
Botox is probably the best known neurotoxin used for cosmetic purposes. It was described during the late 19th century and is also used to treat muscle spasms.