L'Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetics company is partnering with bioprinting start-up Organovo to print episkin with a 3D printer. R&D is not new to L'Oréal, the company employs almost 4,000 scientists across 50 countries. L'Oréal wants to scale up the production of the episkin and do it outside a laboratory. L'Oréal has been growing episkin using tissue from plastic surgery patient donors since the 1980s to avoid product testing on animals. The skin closely resembles the dermal layers of human skin and reacts naturally to irritants.
In 2011 L'Oréal produced 100,000 skin samples in nine varieties covering a range of ages and ethnicities – approximately five square metres in total. The process is however time consuming, complex, delicate and expensive. L'Oréal is looking to Organovo’s 3D bioprinting innovations to streamline the process and make it more economical.