System for the maintenance and survival of skin biopsies in transport and its applications.
Founded in 2011, the Toulouse start-up Genoskin developed a technology for survival and transport of skin biopsies, making samples used for cosmetic testing or therapeutic agents.
The technology was patented, showing that the use of human skin has several advantages, especially as it can simulate realistic chemical interactions. It is, therefore, a model of choice for toxicological testing of ingredients or cosmetic formulations.
« The animal and artificial skin models printed in 3D can not exactly replicate human skin, » explains Pascal Descargues , co-founder, and president of Genoskin. « One of our US customers had developed a product that gave excellent results on mice and artificial skin. But when tested on our skin samples, the results were no good and the product was never put on the market, saving our client the launch of a costly clinical study. »
An alternative to animal testing
The work of Genoskin aligns with a strong and global trend towards reducing animal testing, particularly in the cosmetics industry. Since 2013 and in the EU, it is illegal to sell cosmetics that have been tested on animals. This decision encouraged many other countries worldwide to tighten legislation pushing the proliferation of labels such as « not tested on animals » by cosmetics manufacturers. The most avant-garde had already anticipated in the application of this law. The others had to adapt their practices and test their products mostly on artificial skin. Some manufacturers have quickly associated themselves with biotech engineers to print 3D fabrics, such as the company Organovo. The market for 3D fabrics itself is estimated to around one billion euros by 2020.
After the skin, tumors
Still, there remains a significant gap to fill. Only a few models exist that allow the assessment of the systemic effects of molecules, that is to say, the effect on the scale of an entire organism. The use of worms (invertebrates), which are not affected by the legislation, is one solution. Another consists of the development of predictive computer models of a human physiological reaction. « The next step is the » human body hand-chip » explains Pascal Descargues. That is to say, the skin to liver, lung, heart, etc. interconnection models « . But according to scientists, the day we can free ourselves completely from animal models has not yet dawned. Hence the development of many innovative solutions in the coming years.
by Mathieu Fontaine, Benjamin Morel and Yves Vilaginés.
Mathieu Fontaine and Benjamin Morel are both specialists and consultants in biotechnology Questel, a consulting company in intellectual property.
Yves Vilaginés is a journalist with « Les Echos ».