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A company that provides a unique alternative to animal testing, by offering the use of excess human skin, has announced its expansion into North America.

Genoskin, a biotech based in Toulouse, France, that provides the alternative to animal testing plans to open a local production unit in Boston in the first quarter of 2018.

The skin is donated by patients after common plastic surgery procedures, such as tummy tucks. Instead of disposing of the excess skin at the end of these procedures, the Genoskin team recycles it into a patented testing model for cosmetic, pharmaceutical and chemical companies, in addition to research institutions.

The retrieved skin is placed in a testing well which contains a specific biological matrix that keeps the skin alive for several days.

One of the benefits of testing on this skin, as opposed to the animal, bioprinted, or laboratory-grown variety is that the tissue model contains real, live human skin to study drug and compound toxicity and efficacy on a model that is as close as possible to in vivo human skin. There are currently no equivalent skin models on the US market.

The company’s founder and CEO, Pascal Descargues, said: “Animal testing is inefficient, time-consuming, expensive and increasingly perceived as unethical. We believe our technology marks a turning point”.

“Our skin models help academic institutions, pharma, cosmetic and chemical companies obtain more predictive results in order to lower R&D costs”, Mr Descargues added.

The use of animals to test cosmetic products is prohibited in an increasing number of countries, such as within the EU and in India, and remains a controversial topic in the US.

Genoskin have highlighted the fact that animal tissue differs from human tissue in many aspects, which can often lead to testing complications. Many of the drugs that are validated on animals during preclinical studies will never reach the market, mainly due to toxicity and efficacy issues in humans.

The local production unit will allow US customers to take full advantage of the product’s life span, as they will no longer be subjected to the customs, FDA and/or USDA procedures that apply when bringing human skin samples into the US.