The L’Oreal Group stopped testing products on animals worldwide in 2013. Since then, the company has relied on a testing model that utilizes reconstructed human epidermis. In other words, the grow small bits of skin in a lab and test their products on them to ensure everything is safe.
The cosmetics giant is now teaming up with 3D bioprinting company Organovo to generate skin to test cosmetics of their very own. Actually, L’Oreal has been growing skin since the 1980s at their lab in Lyon. They had a team of approximately sixty people who would grow roughly 100,000 skin samples annually. To put that into perspective, they’d generate enough skin to cover a cow’s entire body.
As things currently stand, L’Oreal receives bits of donor skin from plastic surgery procedures. The cells are broken down and isolated, recultured, and grown in .5cm testing squares. The entire process takes about a week to complete. Forunately for the industry, the process can be done much quicker with Organovo’s NovoGen Bioprinting Platform.
The device uses two printer heads: one places human cells while the other adds a hydrogel support matrix. This allows for commercial scale production of skin samples. Though the program is still in its early stages, the cosmetics company retains exclusive rights to the samples for use in non-prescription skin care products. Organovo retains rights to sell the tisses for perscription drug and toxicity testing. It may also be used for organ transplants.
The bioprinter has already formed a partnership with Merk to create liver and kidney tissues.
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