Artificial skin development has implications for clinical trials

pharmafile | January 23, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing Seoul National University Hospital, artificial skin, dermatology 

Researchers from Seoul National University Hospital have announced that it has developed a microchip that has been designed to replicate human skin. The device, known as a ‘skin avatar’, is a combination of both silicon and human cells that may allow clinical research to develop beyond animal testing.

The chip is one centimetre in diameter, with human cells grown on top of a layer of silicon. The artificial skin has both inner and outer skin layers, along with linked bloods vessels and the other biological infrastructure that would allow accurate testing of products upon the skin.

The implications of this development are profound – it could be used be used by drug companies to test drugs relating to the skin and also could be used in the testing of beauty products. The bonus for both are huge, with drug companies potentially able to test for negative side effects prior to taking the drug to the more costly clinical trial process – potentially speeding up the whole process. The ability to test dermatological or beauty products on the artificial skin would also negate the use of animals for the testing of products.

“For developing cosmetics or new drugs, clinical trials on animals or humans are essential to prove safety”, explains lead researcher, Seoul National University Hospital’s professor Choi Tae-hyu. “Our microchip would help replace the existing methods and resolve ethical debates, while at the same time reducing the time and cost required for research and development.”

“The chip can be commercialized right away, and be applied effectively not only in stimulation experiments for cosmetics and drugs, but also for allergy researches,” suggested Professor Lee Keon-hee from Korea University’s School of Biomedical Engineering.

It will be interesting to see, given that it is able to be commercialised immediately, how quickly the uptake on the device will be. Any potential successes that occur will spur huge interest in the device for many industries.

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