When you think of L'Oreal, you probably think "cosmetics" not "3D-printed skin." But the French beauty firm has partnered with San Diego-based bio-engineering company Organovo to print human skin.
In a press release, Organovo says the two companies are partnering to "develop 3D-printed skin tissue for product evaluation and other areas of advanced research."
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Since the 1980s, L'Oreal has been in the field of tissue engineering, growing skin in laboratory cultures using donated skin cells. The process for growing a .5 centimeter test square takes about a week.
But Organovo's method goes much faster. It uses their proprietary NovoGen Bioprinting Platform, which works like an inkjet printer to lay down human skin cells in a hydrogel matrix that keeps them alive.
Why the need? Cosmetics need to be tested and testing them on human skin is much more accurate and ethical than testing them on animals. L'Oreal says on its website that it stopped testing cosmetics on animals back in 1989.
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However, China requires testing on animals for all cosmetics imported into their country and L'Oreal is no exception. It's possible that better, more accurate tests that come from this new collaboration could put an end to animal testing once and for all.