In 1986, Stanley Cohen received the Nobel Prize for his work elucidating the role of the Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) in the regulation of cell growth and development. EGF is a growth factor that plays an important role in the regulation of cell growth, cell proliferation, and differentiation. As with all growth factors, it is a small protein. EGF (sh-Oligopeptide-1) acts by binding to specific receptors on the cell surface, starting a cascade of very organized molecular events; including increased intracellular calcium concentration, energy production, and protein synthesis.
Among the practical uses of EGF are its use in accelerating healing of skin and cornea. EGF was the first growth factor to be discovered and studied, but many more factors have been found since then. These growth factors differ in size and structure, affecting different receptors and types of cells as a consequence, and causing various effects on the target cells.
EGF, or epidermal growth factor, has an International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients designation by the name of sh-oligopeptide-1 and is considered a Skin Conditioning Agent, Miscellaneous. As an item with an INCI designation this means that the item is regulated by the FDA and as such is fair to use in cosmetics within the allowed usage concentration. The item in question is an ingredient found in skin care being sold in small scale batches or in large popular brand catalogs.
Growth factors, a.k.a. cytokines, are naturally occurring proteins capable of stimulating cellular proliferation and cellular differentiation. Growth factors bind to specific receptors on cell surfaces and are important for the regulation of a variety of cellular processes.A growth hormone, on the other hand, is produced via the endocrine system and is only released, produced, and stored in the pituitary gland.
A growth hormone is different from a growth factor in that growth factors such as EGF are found throughout the body and arenít produced by the pituitary gland; rather it is produced through a series of signal transduction events when the body needs it. Size is also a differentiating factor between the two, as EGF is a relatively small peptide at only 55 amino acids while growth hormones are 191 amino acids long.