Reconstructed Human Tissues Models - from laboratory to industrialized evaluation<br/>models
On April 11, 2011 in Lyon Gerland, the L’Oréal group inaugurated the first Center for Predictive Evaluation in the world. Its goal: to predict earlier and better the safety of ingredients and finished products, particularly in the field of cosmetics. Its mission: to produce reconstructed human tissue, such as skin or cornea, and use it to test the effects of new molecules.
This high-tech platform, unique in the cosmetics industry, also provides tissue to scientists from the pharmaceutical and chemicals industries or from the academic world.
The center pioneers a new vision of innovation and evaluation of the future: knowing, before a molecule is even synthesized and using only its chemical formula, how to scientifically predict its innocuousness, using a battery of new-generation tests.
This is the heart of an international network of regional L’Oréal research centers extending from France to China and Singapore, and tomorrow, India and Brazil.
1. Reconstructed human tissues for safety assessment
At the start of the 1980’s, the first reconstructed human epidermis was a real revolution in L’Oréal Research’s ability to predict the safety of active ingredients and products. This made it possible to stop testing finished products on animals from 1989, 14 years before the law required it.
Reconstructed tissue can be used to measure and test the innocuousness of formulations or of active ingredients, and to understand the skin’s operating mechanisms. As a result, the creation of innovative products is possible.
In the cosmetics industry, reconstructed skin models are used to test the "safety" of raw materials and finished products (cream, shampoo, lipstick, etc.). The challenge is to predict the toxic effects (irritations, corrosions, allergies, etc.), caused by a new ingredient, or a combination of ingredients (a formula).
Based on very specific criteria, reconstructed skin models can be used to evaluate the tolerance of a care formula, a moisturizer used in the composition of a cream, a sun filter or an antioxidant, for example. They are used both to identify and select new substances or new combinations of ingredients.
Answering scientists’ questions
Reconstructed skin models are just as good for developing in vitro methods as for evaluating the safety of ingredients. They are used to develop cosmetic products. But not only! How do skin cells communicate with each other? How and why does the sun cause such damage? How do cancers develop? These are all questions that new reconstructed skin models will be able to answer.
Many improvements are yet to come and challenges to be overcome: including nerve cells, reducing the differences between native and reconstructed epidermises by including several types of skin cells. Nevertheless, the models that the L’Oréal laboratories are working on have an architecture and properties that are increasingly close to the natural state of human skin.
2. L’Oréal Predictive Evaluation Center – unique in the world
The L’Oréal Lyon-Gerland predictive evaluation center includes research into and production of reconstructed skin in the same place.
By doubling the size of the installations in 2011, with 1,260 m² of clean rooms, the Gerland predictive evaluation center has significantly strengthened its production capacity for reconstructed skin. From 16,000 ten years ago, the annual production of biological tissue samples (skin and cornea) has now reached 130,000. There is considerable experience in the mastery of the tests. Since 2005, all of L’Oréal’s raw materials and finished products have been evaluated there.
In addition, the predictive evaluation center is able to industrialize new designed models (link to this section) developed by L’Oréal’s advanced research laboratories. Industrializing a laboratory model means being able to produce it reliably and on a large scale. "Thus we can conduct tests rapidly and get tangible and sure results", explains Françoise Soler, director of L’Oréal’s predictive evaluation center. After skin irritation, the center is producing tests in the field of sensitivity, otherwise known as allergic reactions. Scientists in a special team are using the knowledge acquired by the Predictive Evaluation Center for reconstructed skin. This is an essential link in the integrated test strategy (ITS) (link to this section),combining several test approaches and information sources.
A rich legacy of knowledge
In 2011, the Gerland center evaluated more than 1,300 finished products and around one hundred raw materials in the fields of aging, pigmentation, peeling and photo protection.
All the results obtained, both quantitative and qualitative, and all the stages required to conduct the tests, are stored every day in a database. Thus the research center can capitalize on the knowledge acquired. It enables scientists to practice predictive evaluation, i.e. to evaluate the effects of an active ingredient using its chemical formula. The Predictive Evaluation Center can thus access a database containing all the results of the tests on all the ingredients, raw materials, formulas and active ingredients used in cosmetics. It can also draw on the knowledge acquired in the Group’s laboratories (50,000 ingredients mastered and tested).
Access to tissue from the whole world
Beyond the scientific skills and technological abilities in play, the know-how and quality of L’Oréal’s world predictive evaluation center lie in the dimension of the data available to its scientists. They have access to tissues from around the world, with for example all data concerning Asian skin from the research centers in Pudang (China) and Singapore. With a huge diversity of tools, the L’Oréal laboratories can conduct tests or create new models for consumers from all over the world.
L’Oréal and predictive evaluation in figures
Gerland predictive evaluation center
- € 16 million invested since 2009
- 1,260 m² of clean rooms
- 650 m² of biology laboratories
- 59 employees on site
- 130,000 reconstructed tissues each year
- 1,337 product and ingredient tests
- 30 years of investment
- € 30 million invested per year
- Alternative and predictive evaluation of safety and effectiveness represents the largest share of the group’s advanced research budget: ¼ of total R&I expenditure which amounted to 665 million Euros in 2010.