Hyaluronic acid was first discovered in 1934 by Karl Meyer and John Palmer, scientists at Columbia University, New York. They isolated the substance from a cow's vitreous body and derived the name hyaluronic acid from hyalos (the Greek word for 'glass') and the uronic sugar found in the substance.
Hyaluronic acid 'modern era' began in the 1960s, when researchers Balazs and Denlinger found high concentration of the molecule in other tissues, thus suggesting its primary biological role in the body and paving the way to its medical application.
Based on their observations, it was confirmed that hyaluronic acid plays a crucial role in cell metabolism and in the physiological processes that lead to tissue repair. Starting in the early 1960s, hyaluronic acid-based preparations were developed for the treatment of skin lesions and in the 1980s, hyaluronic acid was introduced and then extensively used during certain eye surgery procedures, such as cataract extraction. The 1980s also represented the heyday of hyaluronic acid joint injections and by 1990s, hyaluronic acid found its way into the cosmetic field, now the most widely known and popular application of this molecule.
The Italian based pharmaceutical company Fidia Farmaceutici SpA is one of the early pioneers in the medical application of hyaluronic acid back in the 1960s, with the first ever approved hyaluronic acid-based preparation for the management of skin lesions: Connettivina; in the late 1980s, the company obtained marketing authorization for the very first hyaluronic acid-based product for intra-articular administration: Hyalgan, a viscosupplement for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. Hyalgan is currently available in over 80 countries worldwide, a global leading product and an achievement of Italian R&D excellence.