The race to the finish line is on, at least in terms of 3D bioprinting. Biotechnology companies are all trying to be the first to create everything from 3D printed hearts and kidneys to 3D printed skin. A Chinese research team recently said that they believe they can make 3D printed skin a reality within the next few years. But another group of researchers from a company in China say that not only have they already successfully 3D printed skin, but they also, for the first time in the world, successfully 3D printed Asian skin. This is a pretty big deal, because the differences in texture and structure between Caucasian and Asian skin are very specific. Shanghai-based JALA Group, one of the top cosmetic companies in China, has a mission to develop cosmetics that are overall more suitable for Asian women.Skin characteristics are affected by factors such as environment, diet, air pollution, and sun exposure. JALA Group has a philosophy of combining human virtue with the beauty of nature, to make its consumers feel respected and comfortable. Based on the company’s philosophy, JALA Group created a research and development (R&D) center, dedicated to the beauty needs of this cultural group. A very important project the R&D team recently undertook was using its bioprinting technology to build the first Asian skin model.
It took the team, made up of biomaterial scientists, cell biologists, pharmaceutical scientists, engineers, and regenerative medicine scientists from both France and China, nearly 100 experiments to get it right. France-based LabSkin Creations, a JALA Group partner, contributed unique, advanced, and diversified 3D skin models to the project. Meanwhile, LabSkin Creations spent the last few years developing its unique, patented bioink technology, which allows skin tissues to be reconstructed in vitro with 3D bioprinting. JALA Group utilized the 3D skin models and the bioink technology to successfully build 3D bioprinted skin, with Asian skin cells.The JALA R&D Center cultured 3D models of Asian skin cells, using advanced histologic and cell technologies. The reconstructed models have excellent biological properties, and feature a complete structure, including the dermis, epidermis, and basement membrane. While most probably think about 3D printed skin in terms of being used to help burn victims, which is also very important, this new development of bioprinted skin will enhance the company’s R&D capacities in terms of functional testing of raw materials. That’s right: this breakthrough method can be used as an alternative to animal testing, which some other 3D printing researchers have already been working to decrease. JALA Group’s success is vitally important for creating and testing cosmetics that are geared specifically for Asian customers’ skin chemistry. This is just another example of how 3D bioprinting allows for patient-specific medical objects. We see it often in terms of 3D printed medical models, but in terms of creating skincare products, patient-specific developments are another ingenious technological advancement; after all, no one’s skin is completely the same as the skin of the person sitting next to them. Human skin contains multiple cellular structures, so it is fairly complex. As with most bioprinting, 3D printing living tissue is extremely complicated, and as more cosmetic companies start investing in this type of research, biotechnology companies in turn urge them to be careful and remember that bioprinting is different than just 3D printing in plastic materials. Discuss in the 3D Printed Skin forum at 3DPB.com.