The fabled Fountain of Youth may be just a fantasy, but the discoveries of
biochemist Dr. Loren Pickart actually may help mere mortals banish wrinkles,
sun damage and other signs of aging. Through research that began in the 1970s,
Loren discovered a revolutionary copper peptide complex that has been shown to
help those over age 35 achieve younger-looking skin. If this sounds like
something you'd like to get your hands on, you're not alone. Loren has founded
two companies to develop products that contain this type of copper peptide; in
addition, it is available at drugstores in skin-care products made by American
Crew, Neutrogena and other cosmetic companies. Today, his research continues.
"One of my goals is to give every woman the skin of a 17-year-old girl," he
Loren's interest in medical research took root as a child growing up in
the Minnesota heartland. "When I was 10 years old, I got a serious throat
infection that had me in the bed for two weeks," he says. "Then the doctor
gave me a shot of penicillin, and I was up and around within the hour." The
idea that the discovery of penicillin could have such a powerful impact on
healthcare left a lasting impression on Loren. As a young adult, he enrolled
in the University of Minnesota with the intent of making a career of medical
research. After talking to the medical researchers on campus, he decided to
concentrate his studies on a relatively new field: human aging. "This was the
'60s, when medical researchers believed they would find a cure for cancer and
heart disease in the next 10 years," he says. "I decided to study human aging
instead, because that way I would always have a job."
Once Loren graduated from UM with a degree in chemistry and math, he
began working at a gerontological research laboratory in Santa Barbara that
studied human aging. After a few years, he moved to San Francisco to pursue
his Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of California San Francisco. At
UCSF, the research that he would dedicate his professional life to took shape.
"I was searching for something that would reverse the effects of aging," he
explains. "In looking at the blood, I saw that younger blood grows cells
better than older blood. The question was, why?" The answer (and subject of
Loren's thesis) was a small copper peptide complex that keeps cells alive
longer. Through years of research, working with both UCSF and the University
of Washington, Loren discovered that this type of copper peptide has powerful
healing and tissue remodeling properties.
The second chemist in the family: daughter Francoise, a chemistry major
at the University of Washington, with faculty members at the University of
In 1980, Loren moved to Bellevue to be closer to the UW Chemistry Department.
He founded a biotech company, ProCyte Corporation, to develop what he now
calls his "first generation" of copper peptide products. In several clinical
studies set up by Loren, the results were promising: the copper peptide
complex was shown to reverse many of the signs of aging, including wrinkles
and sun damage. In 1989, Loren took ProCyte public on NASDAQ.
Two years later, tragedy struck. While at the airport during a strenuous
business trip, Loren developed a blood clot, a life-threatening condition that
required cardiac surgery and extensive rehabilitation. "I decided to leave
ProCyte in order to concentrate on my health," he says. Today ProCyte is
profitable from licensing patented technology and selling its own products
---the Neova line for cosmetic skin renewal, the Complex Cu3 line to improve
skin healing after dermatological procedures and Graftcyte for increasing the
success of hair transplant grafts.
Charlene, Francoise, and Genevieve in Athens
In 1994, with his health restored, Loren joined with wife Charlene ---a UCSF
graduate with a master's in mother-infant nursing whom Loren met while
attending the university--- to form a second biotech company, Skin Biology.
"After testing about 200 different copper complexes, I found a special
fraction of peptides from soy proteins that possesses remarkable skin
regeneration properties," he says. Skin Biology is currently patenting and
test marketing various products built around this second, more effective
generation of copper peptides. To date, the market for these products has been
largely cosmetic; for example, they are useful for skin recovery after such
cosmetic treatments such as skin peels, dermabrasion and laser resurfacing.
Loren says future goals include developing a product for pre-ulcer dermatitis
and, on a larger scale, putting together a complete picture of how the copper
peptide works in the human body.
In the meantime, Skin Biology's existing products, which include skin
creams, exfoliators and acne serums, continue to gain popularity through word
of mouth. "I get calls from 24-year-old models who have heard about our
products," says Loren, who adds that those over age 35 will see the most
"Women who start using the skin cream notice that their skin looks
better. Then they put it on everything: their faces, hands, feet, husband,
children, pets and plants," he quips. You can read more about Skin Biology and
its products at www.skinbiology.com
When not searching for ways to restore the perfect peaches-and-cream
complexion, Loren can be found traveling with Charlene and their three
daughters Germaine, Francoise and Genevieve; enjoying a meal or taking a sauna
at the Club; or cruising to the family's vacation home on San Juan Island on
his boat, Regenerate. "I'm 65 years old; I want to enjoy life," he says.
Reflecting on his days at UCSF, he recalls how the university's Biochemistry
Department operated with the ideology that one should never do something
unless he or she has fun doing it. Says Loren, "Scientists are like clergymen;
they never really retire. I'm lucky that I enjoy what I do."