A pioneering way to prevent wrinkles has been cooked up by a Hebrew University researcher who developed a plant-based antioxidant that does not oxidate quickly, is impervious to high temperatures and retards the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin. Dr. Orit Bossi of HU's agriculture faculty in Rehovot did her doctoral work on the antioxidant, which counters free radicals that cause a breakdown in many tissues in the body, including the skin. She has not identified the plant source of the antioxidant, which is being patented. Free radicals in small amounts in the body are not harmful, and are even involved in various physiological processes. But when they are in excess, they trigger the breakdown of proteins such as collagen and elastin, which give skin its elasticity and wrinkle-free appearance. Many antioxidants are sold in pill form, including vitamin C, vitamin E and EGCG, which is found in green tea. But these oxidate quickly and break down in heat, which limits their efficacy. The new antioxidant, according to Bossi, is stable in high temperatures, soluble in water and does not easily oxidize, allowing it to retain its efficacy over a long period. She conducted research on the skin cells of mice, which are similar to those of humans. She exposed some cells to the sun's ultraviolet rays and added the antioxidant, while others were exposed to the rays but without the antioxidant. The control group, without the antioxidant, showed a significant increase in free radicals, while those that were treated did not. Unlike sunscreens, which merely protect the skin from much of the harm of UV rays, Bossi said her antioxidant retards the aging of the skin. Unlike cosmetic preparations, she said her discovery "deals with the deepest layers of the skin and not only the epidermis."