3D bioprinting is the process of generating spatially-controlled cell patterns using 3D printing technologies, where cell function and viability are preserved within the printed construct.
As a number of cosmetics manufacturers move into this area, Bos offers a word of caution, stating that while challenges come in the form of material and print cost, the biggest one for beauty firms is biological understanding.
He tells CosmeticsDesign-Asia.com that the skin is complicated - the wrong level of acidity or temperature can render a model useless and it's an area regulators will need to work with the industry on to provide clarity and guidelines going forward.
"The 3D technology out there for plastics can also be used for bio-printing but if you get anything wrong on the cell, if anything changes in the process of printing it may be hard to detect or indeed rectify," he tells this publication.
What are the possibilities?
In the right hands, 3D bioprinting can provide more accurate skin models for safety and efficacy testing, opening the door to tests that can be carried out earlier in the R&D process which will ultimately cut back on the time it takes to figure out if a formulation works or not.
Bos reckons interesting cosmetics applications we are set to see further down the road in this area will include making models that are distinct to particular skin types like dry or ethnic or even under the eye to make more customized products and personalised cosmetics.
Earlier in the year, firms like L’Oréal signed an exclusive deal with San Diego-based Organovo on a skin tissue venture utilising this technology.
Procter & Gamble also got in on the act, announcing it is working with the Singaporean government’s Agency for Science, Technology & Research, and inviting scientists to apply for grants as part of a $44 million, five-year research program to accelerate innovation, and expand research on 3D bioprinted skin.
Industry collaborations in this area
BASF has also joined the 3D bioprinted skin party by teaming up with biotechnology firm Poietis to help develop and test cosmetic bioactives for skin care applications.
Poietis signed an agreement with the chemicals company to combine the pair’s expertise in tissue engineering and bioprinting.
As such, the bioprinting technology of Poietis will be applied to improve BASF’s skin equivalent model Mimeskin.
“We are extremely pleased about this collaboration. Having long-term expertise in solutions for the dermocosmetics market, BASF understands the benefits of 3D laser-assisted bioprinting compared to conventional cell culture technologies and other bioprinting methods,” says Dr Fabien Guillemot, Founder and President of Poietis.
“The partnership also emphasizes bioprinted tissue models as an alternative to animal testing in cosmetics and dermopharmacy.”
As per the arrangement, Poietis’ bioprinting technology will refine Mimeskin due to its advanced printing resolution, and thelaser-assisted bioprinting technology will be used in a first step to allow for automated reproduction of Mimeskin, followed by more advanced models containing additional cell types.