L’Oreal into 3D-skin-printing

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L’Oreal already grows thousands of human skin samples per year in its labs in Lyon, France — but it wants more. So the cosmetics company is partnering with Organovo, a startup that uses bioprinting technology to create human tissue capable of replicating the body’s biological functions. Within the next five years, L’Oreal wants to speed up and increase skin production in its labs using Organovo technology, Bloomberg reports.L’Oreal will use Organovo’s NovoGen Bioprinting Platform to print skin tissue. The process involves identifying “key architectural and compositional elements” of the targeted tissue and creating a specially formulated “bio-ink,” or multicellular building block, for it. The tissue is then built in vertical layers. Similar skin-printing technology has previously been suggested as a way to expedite the healing process for facial injuries and burns.

L’Oreal’s current skin-farming technique involves breaking down skin tissue into cells, feeding those cells a special diet, and growing them in an environment that mimics the human body. The original cells come from tissue donated by plastic surgery patients. Of the more than 100,000 skin samples the company makes annually, half are used for L’Oreal’s own cosmetics research and half are sold to pharmaceutical companies and competitors, according to Bloomberg. A single sample is half a square centimetre wide and up to one millimetre thick, and takes about a week to form. L’Oreal hopes Organovo’s technology will add precision and speed to the process. Annually, L’Oreal’s labs already produce around five square meters of skin, Bloomberg reports.

Organovo has previously partnered with biopharmaceutical companies and academic medical centres, but this is its first foray into the beauty industry. The company is currently working with pharmaceutical giant Merck to print liver and kidney tissues, Bloomberg reports.French cosmetics firm L’Oreal is teaming up with bio-engineering start-up Organovo to 3D-print human skin.It said the printed skin would be used in product tests.Organovo has already made headlines with claims that it can 3D-print a human liver but this is its first tie-up with the cosmetics industry.Experts said the science might be legitimate but questioned why a beauty firm would want to print skin.

L’Oreal currently grows skin samples from tissues donated by plastic surgery patients. It produces more than 100,000, 0.5 sq cm skin samples per year and grows nine varieties across all ages and ethnicities.Its statement explaining the advantage of printing skin, offered little detail: “Our partnership will not only bring about new advanced in vitro methods for evaluating product safety and performance, but the potential for where this new field of technology and research can take us is boundless.”It also gave no timeframe for when printed samples would be available, saying it was in “early stage research”.

Expert speak-

1-“I think the science behind it – using 3D printing methods with human cells – sounds plausible,” said Adam Friedmann, a consultant dermatologist at the Harley Street dermatology clinic. “I can understand why you would do it for severe burns or trauma but I have no idea what the cosmetic industry will do with it,” he added.

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine has pioneered the field of laboratory-grown and printed organs.It prints human cells in hydrogel-based scaffolds. The lab-engineered organs are placed on a 2in (5cm) chip and linked together with a blood substitute which keeps the cells alive.Organovo uses a slightly different method, which allows for the direct assembly of 3D tissues without the need for a scaffold.It is one of the first companies to offer commercially available 3D-printed human organs.

Last year, it announced that its 3D-printed liver tissue was commercially available, although some experts were cautious about what it had achieved. Now, there is a new upcoming future with skin printing that is arising hope in burnt patients.


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