THE SKIN TELLS US YOUR STORY – FROM THE OUTSIDE IN by Prof. Roni Kohen
Meet one of MYOR’s co-founders, Prof. Roni Kohen. Prof. Kohen is a biochemist by training and a professor of pharmaceutics at the Institute for Drug Research, School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Until recently, Prof. Kohen acted as the head of the School of Pharmacy and the Institute for Drug Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Here's his story, and how he came to cofound MYOR.
Since my early days in research, I have been fascinated by the skin and the endless mechanisms in which it is involved and the yet undiscovered opportunities that it brings. Over the last fifteen years, my research group has studied the optical, biochemical, and volatile signature of human skin using noninvasive techniques and procedures. We relate to the skin as a window for internal disease and explore the role of the skin microbiota in skin protection and in the aging process.
THE SKIN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MANY OF THE BODY’S MECHANISMS
Skin is a unique tissue. It protects the body from changes in the environment. It has multiple roles in maintaining its inside balance, or homeostasis, and therefore performs several vital functions—regulating temperature, regulating sensation, retaining body fluids, and eliminating waste. Skin also has an endocrine function; synthesizing vitamin D and storing it along with glucose, water and fat molecules.
The skin barrier is essential for humans to survive in an external environment. It provides the first barrier against various stressors and, as such, is confronted with more severe situations than any other organ since it is exposed to a variety of damaging species both from internal and external sources.
THE SKIN IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING IN YOUR BODY
There are numerous processes in the body that are reflected on the skin surface. For example, malignant processes and inflammatory processes, diabetes, kidney disease, mental conditions, and inflammatory bowel diseases all have cutaneous (e.g. on-the-skin) manifestations.
There is also a claim that even typical skin diseases such as melanoma and psoriasis, as well as allergies of various kinds, actually originate from a combination of a diminished immune system and skin dysfunctions together with external stressors.
HOW DID WE COME UP WITH MYOR?
Ariel and I grew up in the same neighborhood and we've been in touch since childhood. My lab and Ariel's previous company, Enzymotec, collaborated on a research project. We've always kept abreast of each other's activities and interests. Early in 2018, Ariel called me and proposed setting up a startup that would use the skin as a window for various pathological and physiological conditions. I jumped at the opportunity, both because of the prospect of working alongside Ariel and because I believe strongly in the idea. We recruited Dr. Michael Brandwein, a brilliant young researcher, and together we established MYOR in less than two weeks' time.