Thanks to the work of a Singapore science team, a piece of leather the size of an inch can be printed in less than a minute. A revolutionary step for a future without animal testing for cosmetics and other products.
A century has passed since the first synthetic leather developed at MIT in Boston, but the changes since then are already radical.
Today, "cultured and printable" skin from donor skin cells and collagen "has the same chemical and biological properties as human skin," he says. John Koh, laboratory manager of the start-up DeNova Sciences, who collaborates on this discovery with the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore.
"A more aware industry and a more responsible public are pushing more and more for products that are not tested on animals"he said Koh. "This is why we want to give an alternative to testing without using either animal or human skin."
The team accelerated the production process by using a printer to make layers of biological material with precise patterns that mimic human skin. Each small piece of printable leather takes less than a minute to complete, and indeed the distinctive quality of this project is speed.
Cultivate printable human skin
The mixture of donor cells and collagen is incubated for about two weeks. The skin cells multiply and obtain opacity, turning into a whitish membrane.
The skin thus obtained can be used to test the toxicity or irritation potential of a substance and the irritating qualities of the active ingredients in products such as cosmetics.
The next steps
The Koh team is now focused on developing printable human skin that also has Asian pigment cells, thus testing the whitening effects of cosmetics and skin care products.