Sections of the medical industry are abuzz with what advances in 3D printing might mean for humans, but a new initiative by L'Oréal shows the technology could have indirect benefits for animals, too. As part of its ongoing effort to eschew animal testing of its products, the cosmetics giant has teamed up with bioprinting company Organovo to develop 3D-printed skin tissue for that very purpose.
L'Oréal has been in the game of engineering tissue for decades. It started by first reconstructing the human epidermis in the 1980s. Today, it continues to hone these techniques at a research center in France, where it pumps out 130,000 reconstructed tissue samples each year. These are used to predict the toxic effects that untried ingredients might cause, such as allergies, corrosions and irritations.
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The San Diego-based Organovo reconstructs human tissue layer by layer, using living human cells and its NovoGen Bioprinter. This enables it to make sure each layer contains the correct cell type and density, and at the desired dimensions. The result, Organovo says, is tissue that mimics the form and function of that found in humans.
L'Oréal anticipates that the partnership will help to develop new techniques for it to better assess the safety of new products.