Skin 3D bioprinter created with partnership of Organovo and LOreal. LOreal is teaming up with 3D bioprinting experts, Organovo, to allow them to print human skin for testing purposes. While LOreal has been growing skin for testing in labs for over 30 years, the 3D printer will allow them to speed their development and R&D process. (via Organovo)
3D bioprinting is reaching new, creepy heights with a partnership announced between LOreal and Organovo. With anti-cruelty necessitating an end to testing cosmetics on animals, LOreal has been sourcing and growing skin in Petri dishes for over 30 years. With a recent invention from Organovo, LOreal won’t have to culture human skin in their labs anymore. Instead, Organovo, a company that specializes in 3D bioprinting, is set to develop an exclusive 3D printer that prints human skin. Yep, it probably is as gross as it sounds.
The 3D printer uses “bio-ink” that is made up of cells that will be used to create the foundation of the tissue. The cells will be used to print layers of skin to make each skin sample 3D instead of 2D. Bio-inert hydrogel can also be used in between layers, or to give the skin a particular shape (I suppose if you wanted to bio print a nose or an ear?). Of course, you’d have to source the live cells from somewhere, but that isn’t a problem for LOreal. They have been sourcing live skin samples from plastic surgery donations for years now.
Typically, they use these skin samples to create single cells that they then use to cultivate a 2D layer of skin into square, 0.5 cm testing areas. They cultivate about 100,000 skin samples every year for their endeavors. With a 3D skin bioprinter they will not only be able to shorten the time it takes them to create new skin samples, but they’ll also be able to create better samples.
Organovo claims that the ability to print 3D skin test samples will enable researchers to conduct better studies that enable more useful and accurate results. The printer claims that it can create bio-ink from any source and can also print into any sample size. Most researchers would probably print into deep well plates, but the printer will allow them to get creative as well.
LOreal has first, exclusive dibs on this upcoming piece of machinery. Organovo is calling it the NovoGen Bioprinting Platform. Within the cosmetic industry at least, no other company will be able to get their hands on this technology for a while yet because of the exclusive contract that Organovo has with LOreal who is providing backing for the R&D for this innovation.
LOreal has exclusive rights to skin samples for any non-prescription testing, which should give it a competitive advantage for a while. However, Organovo isn’t just stopping with a contract with LOreal. They also have plans to use their bioprinting within the medical industry to enable anything from testing to creating organs.
They have also partnered with a company called Merk to bioprint liver and kidney tissues. They are expected to be able to 3D print organ tissue samples by next year. Organovo retains the right to sell tissue samples for the purpose of testing pharmaceuticals, researching disease, and developing organs.
It may be quite some time before we are able to replace organs with 3D printed tissues, but Organovo is certainly making headway in that direction.
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