A biotech company in Milan has found a way to grow stem cells of a highly bioactive ingredient found in - guess what - edelweiss.
"[E]delweiss grows in harsh climates, [so] it is obliged to produce a number of active substances that help protect against the elements such as UV rays," explained Francesca Melandri, a spokeswoman for the Institute for Biotechnological Research (IRB).
Rather than harvest the rare and protected plant itself in large quantities, the company is producing metabolites from stem cells it grows from small amounts of plant biomass. This allows the compound to be produced at "industrial levels" without endangering the species, reported
The particular ingredient, Leontopodium alpinum stems
, has high concentrations of leontopodic acids A and B which have strong antioxidant properties
, according to the IRB. It also has has strong anti-collagenase and hyaluronidase actvity which helps to limit the degradation of important macromuolecules in the skin.