L'Oreal: Is 3D Printing Skin Cells Worth it?
Beauty product giant L’Oreal already grows millions of samples of human skin every year in its laboratories in Lyon, France. However, such is the demand for their products and the consequent requirement for testing, the company needs more samples for its many research and development projects.
‘Because you’re worth it’
L’Oreal has teamed up with Organovo, a tech start-up company that uses bioprinting technology in order to create human tissue that is able to replicate the human body’s natural biological functionality. L’Oreal wants to accelerate and increase production of skin in its labs over the next five years, according to Bloomberg.
Organovo's NovoGen Bioprinting Platform will be used to print the skin tissue. The complex process entails identifying "key architectural and compositional elements" in the tissue and formulating a special multicellular “bio-ink” with which to print it. The skin tissue is then ‘printed’ in vertical layers. The technique is not totally original. Skin-printing technology has already been mooted as a potential method of treating facial injuries and severe burns without the need for subjecting patients to painful skin grafts.
Currently, L’Oreal uses a technique that breaks down skin tissue donated by plastic surgery patients into individual cells. The cells are then cultivated using a special ‘diet’, and grown in a pseudo-human environment. The process is slow; it can take one week to form a ½ square centimetre wide, 1 millimetre thick piece of skin which equates to one of the 100,000 skin samples (5 square metres of skin) the company requires annually. L’Oreal hopes that working with Organovo will considerably speed up this process.
Although Organovo has previously worked in partnership with other biopharmaceutical companies and medical centres, this will be its first venture into the beauty industry.
One could argue that biotechnology such as growing skin and organ tissue would be best employed in the medical treatment of sick and injured people. However, 3D print technology can also be used to good effect in many different areas of business, too.
Image source: hercampus.com
About Alison Page
Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at http://www.theladywriter.co.uk