Skincential Sciences, a company that manufacturers Clearista skin products and treatments, receives funding from In-Q-Tel, a venture capital fund created by the CIA in 1999 (video below).
Skincential Sciences has "developed a patented technology that removes a thin outer layer of the skin, revealing unique biomarkers that can be used for a variety of diagnostic tests, including DNA collection," The Intercept reports.
The technology includes the Clearista Pen, which resurfaces the skin and evens out the complexion in a way similar to chemical peels and laser skin treatments. It is also used to treat seborrheic keratosis, a benign skin tumor. The lesion is removed by the pen brushing the skn.
The Intercept notes that it also a "novel technique for gathering information about a person’s biochemistry."
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A testimonial on the Clearista website states: "The [Professional] Clearista procedure was a great eye-opener for me. The process was so easy, so gentle, and so painless, and the healing process was so much faster. If I had a friend that had an SK, I would tell them, 'Go for it.' If your dermatologist offers you a procedure with Clearista it is by far -- by far -- the best way to go. It’s number one in my book."
"Our company is an outlier for In-Q-Tel," Russ Lebovitz, the head of Skincential Sciences, told The Intercept.
Lebovitz admitted that his company has relationship with In-Q-Tel, but added, "If there’s something beneath the surface, that’s not part of our relationship and I’m not directly aware. They’re interested here in something that can get easy access to biomarkers."
"I can’t tell you how everyone works with In-Q-Tel, but they are very interested in doing things that are pure science," Lebovitz added.
Lebovitz said that In-Q-Tel was "specifically interested in the diagnostics, detecting DNA from normal skin. There’s no better identifier than DNA, and we know we can pull out DNA."
Lebovitz suggested that the DNA extraction technique could possibly be used for drug testing or crime scenes.
Carrie A. Sessine, a vice president at In-Q-Tel, refused an interview with The Intercept because "IQT does not participate in media interviews or opportunities," but the news site notes that In-Q-Tel officials have participated in interviews before.
An unidentified source told The Intercept about a meeting of In-Q-Tel executives and several start-up businesses in San Jose, California, in February, but the news site was not allowed in.
Some of the speakers at the event included FBI Director James Comey and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work.
Lebovitz, who did attend, recalled: "Not only was I the odd man out, but almost every woman at the conference wanted to come up to me to talk about skin care."