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May 20, 2013

Collaboration Aims to Create In Vitro Human Skin

  • U.K.-based Epistem and Norway’s ScandiDerma, said today they will develop a new in vitro equivalent model for human living skin for use in testing inflammatory responses, in a collaboration whose value was undisclosed.

    The collaboration is designed to address the shortage of human dermatology models for testing inflammatory responses by combining ScandiDerma’s know-how in developing new dermatological ingredients from biomass with Epistem’s expertise in skin biology and delivery of dermatological testing services.

    According to the website of Mabit, an industrial R&D program focused on marine biotechnology for northern Norway, the collaboration aims to develop living skin equivalents (LSEs) that incorporate immune cells, and are capable of mimicking both inflamed and healthy skin. The LSEs are deemed more viable than skin excised from patients.

    The companies said their collaboration will last from this month through March 2014, and will originate from project leader Epistem's facilities in Manchester, U.K., and ScandiDerma's facilities in Barents Biocenter in Tromsø, Norway.

    Funding the collaboration are the U.K.'s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, and Innovation Norway, which approved the companies’ application for funds in a competition, "Sustainable high-value chemical manufacture through industrial biotechnology.”

    The Epistem-ScandiDerma collaboration was one of four projects approved in that funding competition, the fourth involving high-value chemicals, with a deadline of November 4, 2012.

    "For ScandiDerma this is an important milestone in building up our competence around test-systems and how to rapidly determine good lead candidates from our bioprospecting activities" ScandiDerma CEO Ingebjørg Pernille Nedal said in a statement.

    ScandiDerma focuses on R&D of new cosmetic ingredients derived from the bioprospecting of species from the arctic climate. In addition to its R&D activity, ScandiDerma also markets its own high-end skin care line called Skin Science.

    Epistem's core expertise centers on regulation of adult stem cells in epithelial tissue, which includes the skin, hair follicles, gastrointestinal tract, breast, and prostate.

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