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World’s first ‘skin avatar’ to replace animal-human clinical trials

World’s first ‘skin avatar’ to replace animal-human clinical trials

Posted January. 19, 2017 07:07,   

Updated January. 19, 2017 07:17


Korean researchers have recently developed the world’s first skin model microchip, or the so-called “skin avatar” which can replace clinical trials currently done to animals and humans when manufacturing new drugs or cosmetics.

Professor Choi Tae-hyun of the plastic surgery division on Wednesday at Seoul National University with the late Professor Lee Sang-hoon of Korea University announced that they developed a skin avatar on a 2-centimeters diameter chip as a replica of human skin.

The skin avatar is an artificial skin organ with epidermis (outer skin), dermis (thick skin), and blood vessels each cultivated and attached. The avatar will be used to develop new drugs or toxicity experiments for cosmetics to find out the reactions on human skin. In addition, the new avatar is expected to significantly reduce product development period, as it can be mass produced and thereby drastically cut down clinical trial period which can take up to several months to years.

“The avatar was developed to save the lives of numerous animals in the laboratory, and avoid side effects after the toxicity experiment during the clinical stage,” Professor Choi explained. “The research team developed skin avatars in various states including normal or infected to prove that they produce the same results with human skin. The findings were covered in the latest edition of the “Scientific Reports,” a sister journal of “Nature.”

“The chip can be commercialized right away, and be applied effectively not only in stimulation experiments for cosmetics and drugs, but also for allergy researches,” said lead author Lee Keon-hee of the School of Biomedical Engineering at Korea University.

Jin-Han Lee likeday@donga.com