Researchers from the University of Dundee in Scotland have developed an alternative to animal testing using a human skin culture system that closely mimics intact, living skin. Dr. Robyn Hickerson and Dr. Michael Conneely, founders of Ten Bio Ltd. created this system called "TenSkin" to mimic the tension and stretch of real living skin.

“The skin that covers our body is under tension, this has been known for a long time... Other models don’t incorporate this tension, and this is why our product is more effective. When skin is removed from the body it contracts as the tension relaxes. By stretching the skin to an optimal tension, we have created a model that will allow pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies to generate pre-clinical data that will be much more predictive of what is likely to be seen in the clinic," Dr. Conneely explains.

TenSkin Will Improve the Effectiveness of Lab Tests

Dr. Hickerson and Dr. Conneely saw a gap in the way current experimentations in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries were being conducted and the lack of reliable safety and efficacy data. Dr. Hickerson revealed, “Upwards of 90% of drugs that are proven safe and effective in animals fail during clinical trials. Our model will help reduce this costly failure rate.” This latest research now offers an alternative to the experiments, currently only done on animals, and also provides a tool for skin biology research.

Animal testing was a mainstream practice in the past but now as many U.S. states are moving towards making it illegal, it will hopefully become a thing of the past. The cosmetic industry is often under fire for the use of animal testing but it isn't the only industry using such a cruel method. Pharmaceutical companies continue to use this method to test whether potential drugs are suitable for people.

Ten Bio's researchers hope to reduce animal usage for skin-related research. “There is a disconnect between animals and humans when you’re trying to develop therapeutics. While animals can serve as good analogs to study general principles, they often fail when it comes to specific details due to animal/human species differences. These details matter when it comes to developing safe and effective drugs for humans," Dr. Hickerson said.

Using innovations like TenSkin to test cosmetics and pharmaceuticals rather than animal testing will not only save animals but also give more accurate information to develop higher quality and more effective products in the future.