L’Oreal is no stranger to the field of skin engineering. The company has spent decades exploring skin culture technologies that could take them away from forms of animal testing.
L’Oreal has roughly 60 scientists working on site, at a lab in Lyon, France, growing more than 100,000 skin samples annually. According to Bloomberg – In a year, their efforts produce a cowhide worth of human skin samples. The process yields nine different types of human skin samples, representing different ages and ethnicities, that can be used to test various products.
For this partnership, L’Oreal will provide skin expertise and all the initial funding, while Organovo, which is already working with such companies as Merck to print liver and kidney tissues, will provide the technology – with the hopes of automating the process.
What is the end game?
- L’Oreal wins exclusive rights to the 3D printed skin developed with Organovo for uses related to non-prescription skin care products.
- Organovo will retain rights to the tissue models for efficacy testing of prescription drugs, toxicity tests, and the development and testing of therapeutic or surgically transplanted tissues.
The end of animal testing?
The beauty industry has famously been at war with animal rights activists protesting the use of animals – with watchdogs like PETA creating lists of companies that are either ‘cruelty-free’ or ‘still testing’ on animals.
In 2013, the European Union banned the import and sale of cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals. L’Oreal, which is based in France, was one of the first beauty companies to respond. L’Oreal said it would respect the ban and “no longer sell in Europe any finished product with an ingredient that was tested on animals.”
L’Oreal’s current stance on animal testing as posted on their website: The Group no longer tests on animal, anywhere in the world, and does not delegate this task to others.
3-D printed skin tissue will not only protect animals from unnecessary product testing, it will also greatly impact the fields of medicine and cosmetic surgery.
What does L’Oreal have to say about the new partnership?
Guive Balooch -VP of L’Oreal’s global Technology Incubator- said the potential for this new field of technology is ‘boundless.’
Balooch told The Washington Post, “Some of the biggest potential advantages are the speed of production as well as the level of precision that 3-D printing can achieve… L’Oreal’s focus right now is not to increase the quantity of skin we produce but instead to continue to build on the accuracy and consistent replication of the skin engineering process.”
Organovo Holdings, Inc & Bioprinting
Organovo is one of the first companies to offer commercially available 3D-printed human organs. This deal with L’Oreal is their first foray into cosmetics.
Last year they launched their first product, the exVive3D human liver, for use in toxicology and other preclinical drug testing. They struck a deal with Merck & Co. last month to use this liver system for testing as a supplement to in vitro and animal testing.
Click below to watch Organovo’s video explaining the bioprinting process