Denis Allemand

Cnidarians, original models for the cosmetic field

Denis Allemand is Scientific Director of the Scientific Center of Monaco (CSM) and Professor of University. He obtained his doctorate in 1986 at the University of Montpellier II (France) in Pharmacological sciences and Endocrinology. His main field of research concerns the physiology of marine organisms, mainly sea urchins and corals, and their use as model organisms to understand the major problems of biology (biomineralization, symbiosis, evolution…). He is also studying the effect of ocean acidification on marine organisms. He is co-author of about 170 scientific papers and numerous chapters of books and popular articles. He supervised 12 doctoral students.

He is a member of various scientific councils (Prince Albert II Foundation, École Pratique des Hautes Études, IFREMER) and Board of Directors (Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer, INDEMER). He is a member of Academia Europaea. He is Knight of the Order of Saint Charles, Knight of the Order of Grimaldi, Knight of the French Order of Maritime Merit and Officer of Academic Palms.

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Let us imagine an animal for which permanent exposure to the tropical sun would not cause any damage. Furthermore, this animal would possess exceptional capacities for longevity and regeneration. An inaccessible « Holy Grail » for the dermatologist or cosmetologist? No, it is a coral or one of its cousins belonging to the Cnidaria phylum.

This phylum is a group of aquatic, mainly marine, animals, which includes about 10,000 species. It includes corals in the broadest sense of the term (i.e. reef-building corals, deep-sea corals, precious corals, fire coral…), gorgonians, anemones, jellyfish, hydra… Cnidarians are considered to be the sister group of all the other animals from which they separated about 800 million years ago.

Cnidarians possess both the characteristics of animals, but also, through their symbiosis with microalgae, the characteristics of plants. These characteristics, combined with their phylogenetic position, give them very original properties: Cnidarians are in fact among the animals with the greatest longevity (the record being 4265 years for a black coral), some are even capable of “juvenilisation”, they are able to regenerate whole organisms from fragments. Above all, they are able to support, thanks to symbiosis, variations in oxygen partial pressure – and correlative level of oxidative stress – within their tissues that would kill any other animal.

During this presentation, we will attempt to make a synthesis of these exceptional capacities, the in-depth study of which could be a source of discoveries in the dermatology and cosmetology fields.