L’Oréal Wows with Live Demo of Bioprinted Skin Model at Viva Tech 2024

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L’Oréal (EPA: OR) has unveiled its latest bioprinted skin technology at the Viva Technology 2024 event in Paris, Europe’s largest event dedicated to startups and technology. Developed in collaboration with the University of Oregon, the pink hardware can replicate the complexity of real human skin, and for the first time, L’Oréal demonstrated the process live at the event and the resulting bioprinted artificial skin.

The bioprinted skin technology presented at the event is the result of years of research and collaboration between L’Oréal’s Advanced Research teams and Professor Paul Dalton‘s team at the University of Oregon’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. By leveraging Dalton’s melt electrowriting (MEW) process, the team can create a scaffold that mimics the dermal matrix with unparalleled precision. Once seeded with dermal cells, this scaffold forms a structure that closely replicates the biological functions of human skin.

L’Oréal’s 3D printing technology creates artificial human skin models. Image courtesy of L’Oréal via LinkedIn.

Event Reveal

One of the standout features of this bioprinted skin is its ability to accelerate the skin reconstruction process. Traditional methods can take 21 to 35 days, but with L’Oréal’s new technology, the process can be completed in just 18 days. This opens up numerous possibilities for both cosmetic and medical applications.

Moreover, the bioprinted skin model is highly customizable, allowing researchers to adapt it for various studies. This includes testing dermo-cosmetics on different skin types and ages, studying wound healing processes, and potentially developing skin grafts or wound dressings. Another promising application for this technology is the creation of skin that can “feel,” adding a new dimension to the realism of artificial skin by potentially mimicking the sensory functions of natural skin, like sensing touch, temperature, and pressure.

L’Oréal’s bioprinted artificial skin model at. Image courtesy of L’Oréal.

During the Viva Technology event, L’Oréal provided a live demonstration of the bioprinting process, attracting significant attention from attendees. Nathalie Gerschtein, President of L’Oréal North America, shared images and insights from the event on LinkedIn, highlighting the company’s commitment to blending science, technology, and creativity to advance the beauty industry.

“L’Oréal brought the future of beauty to life at Viva Technology 2024. From bioprinted skin technology to Beauty Genius, our AI-driven beauty advisor, our innovations showcased a new era of personalized, inclusive, and responsible beauty,” stated Gerschtein.

L’Oréal’s bioprinted artificial skin model at. Image courtesy of L’Oréal.

Also at the event was L’Oréal’s Head of Advanced Research, Anne Colonna, who noted that the reconstructed skin model developed is a significant milestone but also points to the need for ongoing research to unlock its full potential.

“The great history of reconstructed skin at L’Oréal has been written since the 1980s and is constantly being reinvented thanks to considerable technological advances. Today, our Advanced Research teams have been innovating thanks to technologies that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago,” says Colonna.

Scaffold Precision

L’Oréal and Professor Paul Dalton’s team have published a paper in the Advanced Functional Materials journal detailing their breakthrough in bioprinted skin technology. This paper, titled “First Advanced Bilayer Scaffolds for Tailored Skin Tissue Engineering Produced via Electrospinning and Melt Electrowriting,” shows the development of a new skin model. This model uses two techniques, solution electrospun (SES) and MEW, to create a full-thickness two-layered artificial skin structure in just 18 days, with the layers separated by a membrane. SES creates a fine membrane, while MEW builds a supportive scaffold, forming a layered structure that closely mimics natural skin.

Using MEW, an electric field pulls molten plastic from a nozzle into very fine threads, much thinner than a human hair. This method allows for precise control to create detailed mesh-like structures. According to Dalton, MEW bridges the gap between printing small, detailed objects and larger, less detailed ones, allowing the creation of large objects with fine details.

A 3D printer using Paul Dalton’s MEW technique makes extremely fine strands that can be used to create a new generation of artificial skin. Image courtesy of the University of Oregon.

“This is the first known case of replicating quality skin tissue at full thickness, using different kinds of cells separated by a membrane,” said Ievgenii Liashenko, a research engineer in Dalton’s lab.

Researchers from Dalton’s lab and L’Oréal co-developed plastic scaffolds that mimic the extracellular matrix via a network of finely structured 3D printed threads. Then, L’Oréal researchers grew cultured cells in those scaffolds to create the artificial skin, with different cell types growing in each layer. The researchers explain that the membrane prevents the cells in the different layers from mixing as they develop.

The research, funded by L’Oréal Advanced Research and supported by various grants and facilities, shows that this model can be used for many purposes. L’Oréal is currently using it to test cosmetics and skin care products.

Since the materials used in the scaffold are already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use inside the human body, the path to real-world application is much smoother. Going forward, Dalton’s team and L’Oréal researchers plan to explore the many other potential uses for the underlying scaffolding in skin tissue engineering, which can help study how different conditions affect skin, create models of diseased skin, and test new skincare and pharmaceutical products.

Customizable Model

Paul Dalton (left) and Ievgenii Liashenko in their Knight Campus lab. Image courtesy of the University of Oregon.

L’Oréal’s commitment to bioprinted skin technology aligns with its long-standing pledge against animal testing. Since 1989, the company has been at the forefront of developing alternative testing methods, and this latest move reinforces its dedication to ethical research practices that don’t include animals in labs. However, the promise of this bioprinted skin technology could help raise the standards of product testing while assuring cruelty-free beauty.

Despite the promising advancements, there are still many challenges on the road to refining the technology and ensuring its scalability for widespread use. Researchers like Dalton and those at L’Oreal continually work to overcome these hurdles, paving the way for a future where bioprinted skin could become a standard tool in cosmetics and medical fields.

Still, the presentation of L’Oréal’s bioprinted skin at Viva Technology is a major step forward in tissue engineering. With its live demonstration at one of the world’s leading technology expos, L’Oréal attracts plenty of attention to the young field of bioprinting. It shows how useful and promising this technology is. What’s more, this visibility helps get more support and speeds up progress in bioprinting. By highlighting their innovation at such a big event, L’Oréal is advancing their research and encouraging others in the field to explore new possibilities in tissue engineering.

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