L'Oreal is extending its research and development capabilities in the area of reconstructed skin with the acquisition of the company SkinEthic through its subsidiary Episkin. The move will help it develop more accurate testing capabilities for a range of skin care products, particularly UV sunscreens.
L'Oreal has ambitions to become a major player in the fast evolving reconstructed skin testing arena and is hoping that the acquisition of the France-based SkinEthic business will help to enhance the tissue engineering capabilities already possessed by Episkin.
According to L'Oreal, SkinEthic has built a reputation as a worldwide player in the production and commercialization of human epidermal tissues, which encompasses areas such as the dermis, corneal, oral, gingival and alveolar, for in vitro test applications that will span across many industries including health care, pharmaceuticals as well as the personal care industry.
In line with EU objective outlined by the REACH programme, L'Oreal says that the ultimate goal is to develop a range of standardized in vitro methods that can be used to test ingredient safety with the aim of accelerating the elimination of animal testing.
Europe has been making inroads into the ban on ingredients testing on animals, but still there is no definite date stipulating when it will be introduced.
The European Commission is hoping this will be possible by 2007 or 2008, but a lot of works remains to be done in order to ensure this aim, which is one that larger players such as L'Oreal is also working towards achieving.
In line with these ambitions, L'Oreal says that the complimentary nature of Episkin and SkinEthic should allow it to further advance its commitment to the development of alternative methods for the safety assessment of product ingredients that do not rely on animal testing.
Jean-François Grollier, vice-president of research and development at L'Oréal said that the move deomonstrated the company support and continued drive towards sustainable innovation.
"The acquisition of SkinEthic allows us to respond to the needs of the entire industry and more specifically in the area of alternative approaches to animal testing - a top priority for L'Oréal", he said.
Likewise, the acquisition will also help SkinEthic to directly tap into an area where the technology it is developing could serve as a vital part of future skin care products and treatments.
"The acquisition provides SkinEthic with a new approach to the market and brings with it the research capability that will benefit all present and future customers", added Doctor Martin Rosdy, founder of SkinEthic.
As well as pursuing reconstructed skin technology for medical purposes, such as burns cases, it could also prove to be an important part of future skin care products for the beauty sector.
L'Oreal has been working in this area for some 15 years and believes it could hold a big future for the company's product testing capabilities.
Reconstructed skin uses human skin cells that are developed under in vitro laboratory conditions. Basically a culture medium helps to feed the skin cells, leading to a multiplication process that eventually forms sheets of skin.
One of the major uses for such laboratory developed skin cells is for the development of UV sunscreens. Obviously testing on both humans and animals is risky and soon to be outlawed, which is where laboratory developed skin cells come into their own.
Likewise the skin cells can also be used to test for skin allergies as well a full spectrum of other safety and tolerance tests for newly developed ingredients and formulations.