TOKYO -- Japanese cosmetics maker Shiseido has developed an artificial intelligence technology for analyzing skin to provide researchers with three-dimensional images of dermal layers to illustrate how skin tends to sag.
The company plans to use the technology to improve its own lineup of cosmetics.
A dermal cell called fibroblast keeps the skin in good condition by producing collagen. But when this cell deteriorates, skin begins to lose elasticity and the sagging process begins.
Researchers currently examine tissue under a microscope to see this deterioration. The new method -- developed by Shiseido and others -- creates computerized 3D images of skin layers by combining two-dimensional images collected from microscope observations.
Over the past five years, Shiseido has been conducting research on saggy skin with the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, International University of Health and Welfare and Jichi Medical University. The new technology that has emerged can also classify and display cells in different colors based on image recognition.
3D observation "facilitates new discoveries, including one about the mechanism of tissue connection, and helps develop new skin care treatments," said Tomonobu Ezure, fellow at Shiseido Advanced Research Center. "Currently, we can see some of the major components of the skin, including the cell nucleus, but cannot observe surrounding areas."
The new technology has helped reveal previously unknown skin properties; researchers have discovered that fibroblasts form networks by attaching to each other with protrusions containing a molecule called N cadherin.
"We've learned that once this molecule stops emitting signals, the amount of collagen created by fibroblasts declines and cell growth is inhibited," Ezure said.
The technology has also helped identify the effects of facial massages on the skin. The 3D model revealed that pressure increases the number of cells that grow into fibroblasts.
Shiseido is applying for an international patent on its 3D technology. The system needs to be improved, including its accuracy, Ezure said. "We would like our customers to learn more about their skin through close observation of sweat glands and other major components."