New technology could improve cosmetics testing
improve after a study published this week confirmed the efficacy of
a new technology to grow human tissue.
As animal testing on finished products is outlawed in the EU and plans are being laid to extend the ban to ingredients, finding safe alternatives to test the effectiveness and safety of cosmetics is a priority for the industry. Scientists at Durham University have developed a plastic scaffold that they claim provides an environment for skin cells and other tissues to grow in that is more complex and lifelike than traditional methods permit. Senior researcher Stefan Przyborski told CosmeticsDesign.com that skin cells are usually grown in Petri dishes or flasks, which prevents cells from growing on top of each other and therefore produces tissue that is unrealistically weak. Przyborski said the scaffold, which resembles a thin white disc with the structure of a sponge riddled with tiny holes, allows skin sells to grow naturally in three dimensions. The scaffold, which is being marketed by Durham University spin-out company ReInnervate, was tested as part of a study published this week in the Journal of Anatomy. In the tests liver cells were grown using the new technology before being exposed to the anti-cancer drug Methotrexate. Liver cells developed in the scaffold behaved more like cells in the human body and resisted the drug at higher concentrations than the cells grown in two dimensions. The scientists behind the scaffold admitted that it is not the only way to grow cells in three dimensions (3D) but said that the new technology means they can be grown routinely and inexpensively. Przyborski said the technology does not just work with liver cells but can be used effectively to grow many different tissue types including skin cells. "Because the 3D cells are cultivated under more realistic conditions, it means that they function more like real tissue," said Przyborski. The scientist said that the technology would therefore permit better testing of the safety and quality of cosmetics and help reduce the need for animal testing in research.