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Gene in a Bottle

Could DNA Testing Be the Final Frontier in Skin Care?

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Mankind is counting on genetics for everything from organ replacement to cancer cures. But what about the ideal skin cream? The company Lab 21 has dispatched lab-coated techies to Bergdorf Goodman to sample DNA (they roll a Q-Tip around the inside of your cheek to collect cells). "We are able to get information so precise about your skin that we can create a product that is dramatically different,'' declares Lab 21 president Nathaniel L. Benson.

Five genes are analyzed back at the lab, including your degree of photo aging, rate of collagen breakdown, pollutant tolerance, elasticity, and oxidative stress (i.e., how you cope with free radicals). Then, in ten days, you receive a $250 regenerative anti-aging cream (all 1.7 ounces of it) with your name on the label. According to Benson, there are over 1 million formulas.

Dermatologists are skeptical: "It's science fiction now," says Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank. "We can't manipulate disease yet. I doubt we can manipulate cosmeceuticals." Lab 21, for its part, is promising confidentiality -- so those who'd be devastated to have their oxidative-stress levels made public can breathe a sigh of relief.


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