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Teaser, summary, work performed and final results

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - SKHINCAPS (SKin Healthcare by Innovative NanoCAPsuleS)


In the current technology context, and despite the uncertainties facing the global economy, there are certain consumer trends that are inevitable. Among the macro trends that are key to the future growth of consumer markets, the ageing population, the ‘go-green’...


In the current technology context, and despite the uncertainties facing the global economy, there are certain consumer trends that are inevitable. Among the macro trends that are key to the future growth of consumer markets, the ageing population, the ‘go-green’ consciousness and consumer awareness, the quest for sustainability and the growing interest in natural and organic products have pressured companies to provide a personalised, adapted and increasingly sophisticated technological response to their products and processes. As such, consumer product companies face a tremendous task of bringing newer, safer, natural and more added-value products into the market, within a much shorter time frame.
Within this context, the project SKHINCAPS, ‘SKin Healthcare by Innovative NanoCAPsuleS’, aimed to develop the knowhow and processes for production of novel, safe, cost-effective and highly stable customised nanocapsules (NCs) containing different encapsulated active principles. These NCs were incorporated into ‘smart’ skincare products such as textiles and cosmetics, with increased efficiency and cost benefits, aiming three main applications: thermal comfort; anti-ageing and antimicrobial.
During the project, different textiles, lotions and/or creams were developed and fully tested for their safety and performance assessment, to fulfil the present regulation requirements. All the products and developing processes were also evaluated for their global warming impact, considering their Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

Work performed

During the project execution, all the activities were carried out as planned, producing the expected results, among which the following are highlighted.
Several NCs formulations have been successfully prepared, scaled-up and selected for further developments, using two different biocompatible and biodegradable polymers, and the selected natural active principles, according to their envisaged application. The actives selection was based on the intended properties, cytotoxicity and performance.
The polymers were properly modified to enhance the encapsulation efficiency and the intended release mechanism of the active principles, achieving very promising results. Also, the scale-up of functional stable NCs based in modified polymers and optimized manufacturing protocols was assured.
Detection methods for assessing the presence of NCs, specifically on textiles, were developed. For the textiles with PCM loaded-NCs, several stability optimization tests were performed during the project, resulting in garments that can improve the thermal comfort of users facing cold or hot temperatures. For the anti-ageing NCs, containing a cocktail of vitamins and antioxidants or essential oils, the efficiency of the developed products for anti-ageing applications, both in textiles and cosmetic formulations was validated. Textiles with targeted NCs loaded with natural essential oils to prevent or even mitigate bacterial infections were validated according to ISO standards and the antimicrobial cosmetics were also proved to be efficient, when applied to volunteers’ skin.
Furthermore, the exploitation and/or commercialization strategy plan was outlined by the consortium, whereas 3 major business plans were defined for the envisaged final products: Smart nanocapsules for Textiles, Smart nanocapsules for Skin Care Cosmetic formulations and Know-how Licensing of the Nanoencapsulation Technology.
SKHINCAPS consortium followed actively its Exploitation Plan, promoting several communication and dissemination activities towards a broad dissemination of the project and the gathered outcomes. In the last month of the project, the consortium organized a workshop, in order to disseminate the achieved results and present the developed demonstrators to the community. All these communication activities were in line with the agreed methodology for the protection of the Intellectual Property Rights established. At the end of the project, the Consortium submitted a Provisional Patent Application (PPP), under the title “Capsule for functionalizing a product, method and uses thereof”, PPP 20191000048719.

Final results

SKHINCAPS project was able to deliver innovative products with superior benefits. During the project, no-release nanocapsules containing phase change materials were developed for incorporation on functional first layer textiles, to improve skin thermal comfort. The efficacy of the demonstrators was evaluated by in-vivo and in-vitro tests, in real usage scenarios. The competing existing products in the market are all macro or microencapsulated. Their nanoencapsulation is expected to deliver an increased touch and feel, with potential applications for thermal comfort in baby and elderly clothing, sports practice, and home-textiles, for instance.
As for the skin anti-ageing creams, although there are commercially available creams containing nanoencapsulated active principles, the combination of several antioxidants and vitamins in a single NC was, to our knowledge, never accomplished. Being so, SKHINCAPS project developed an innovative and ground-breaking technology by developing nanocapsules containing a cocktail of natural antioxidants and vitamins or essential oils with a triggered release mechanism, to ensure a maximum anti-ageing effect. The antioxidant efficacy of the developed demonstrators (textiles, anti-wrinkle serum and cream) was assessed by in-vitro and in-vivo tests, being proved the triggered release of the NCs upon critical skin conditions.
As for antibacterial application, all the existing antibacterial textiles are based on silver or aggressive chemical agents. There are commercially available natural essential oils (EOs) with proven benefits in the control of bacteria, but their free form cannot be applied to textiles. SKHINCAPS project developed nanocapsules, with a targeted release mechanism, containing natural antimicrobial compounds (EO) for incorporation in textiles and cosmetic products (anti-acne cream, body gel, athlete´s foot cream and anti-dandruff shampoo). These nanocapsules were able to reduce the growth of the target Gram-positive bacteria S. aureus but showed no effect on other bacterial cells or on human skin cells, an advantage of upmost importance since it allows the efficient treatment of topical infections without causing bacterial resistance.
SKHINCAPS expected impact in the cosmetics and smart textiles industrial segments will contribute directly to the increase in the employment in the manufacturing SMEs and to a higher employability of high qualified workforce in these sectors. SKHINCAPS project will benefit all citizens willing to buy innovative products based on sustainable and cost-effective developments. SKHINCAPS will also guarantee the safety of the workers and products users due to the regulation fulfilment, assured throughout the project by the activity of WP4, specifically created for this purpose.
Aligned with the European 2020 strategy, SKHINCAPS will contribute to boost competitiveness and support the creation of jobs and new sources of growth, being committed with the flagships initiatives, and with a number of wider H2020 objectives including: control healthcare expenditure, H2020 strategic cosmeceuticals sector and plural H2020 Key Enabling Technologies.

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