The project builds on a long-time partnership between Temple University and Procter & Gamble to study the cohesive forces between the microscopic layers of human skin and thus build models to evaluate the impact of chemicals on one of the body’s largest organs. The project’s ultimate goal is to answer one fundamental question: What are the conditions under which certain chemical substances cross the stratum corneum into our body? The project’s long-term target is the capability to predict either the permeability of a chemical substance or its harmful effects on skin cohesion using the same computational model. This capability will be of paramount importance to academic-based health research as well as to industry. Procter & Gamble, among others, aims to predict the safety of products accurately enough to meet the standards set by regulatory agencies. The project will have ramifications in biophysics, materials science, and chemical safety. Researchers will quantitatively explain the cohesive forces that seal together the components of human skin and, in particular, of its relatively dry, acidic outer layer, the stratum corneum, which acts as the first line of defense of the human body against harmful agents such as toxic chemicals, viruses, and bacteria. Extensive effort has been devoted to resolve skin’s intricate multilamellar structure at varying levels of resolution, with the ultimate goal of predicting how certain chemical substances can traverse it while others cannot. This information is vital to pharmaceutical research in applications dealing with drug delivery and to industry in general for evaluating the safety of personal care products.
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