Genoskin is a company that has discovered how to keep human skin alive up to a week off the body, and is using its technology to provide samples for tests to biotechnological, pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies.
The company distributes small pieces of skin - which are kept alive thanks to a gel layer made from a secret recipe - that behave very similar to the skin of our bodies.It is the closest thing to a real human experiment.
The founder of Genoskin, Pascal Downloads, tells Business Insider that his company collects the remains of cosmetic surgeries such as the abdominoplasty and facial stretching, which would otherwise be thrown away.Genoskin
"For a period of time, we have a functional body...And the funny thing is that the hair grows, it can be tan, "explains the commercial director of Genoskin, Dr. Eric Merle, to Business Insider.
Samples also exhibit immune responses, ensures.
There is a lot of skin that nobody wants.Every year, only in the United States, the leftover skin of abdomen surgeries could cover about seven soccer fields, according to the company in the SOAP industry magazine, perfumery and cosmetics.
Using part of that skin, the company has developed products for glaxosmithkline, healthy and unilever products, which have published studies with Genoskin.
The samples become the test base to measure a wide range of factors, including skin absorption capacity, melanin levels, inflammation or immune response, and how it reacts to toxins, ultraviolet light or thepollution.Genoskin
The company offers different models that help investigate different things: for example, Inflammaskin, aimed at testing anti -inflammatory drugs;Hyposkin, which comes with a layer of fat aimed at receiving injections;or Nativeskin, who is designed to express immunological responses.
Despite the horror film tone, Genoskin says that his way of working is both scientific and ethical.One of his arguments is that he offers an alternative to animal tests.
But just as important for Genoskin is that "human data", that is, what we learn from evidence on human skin, is much more scientifically reliable for human applications.
"We have transformed that hypervariable thing, which is a human, into a living product that people can try," says Merle.
Laboratories have several options to perform clinical trials on the skin.First, there are animals, which are relatively cheap but have a huge opposition by public opinion.
It is already illegal in the EU and in several other countries for cosmetic or domestic products.In October 2019, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would stop demanding animal tests.
"The guinea pigs are not relevant," says Merle, owner of a beagle, the most used dog breed in animals tests."They are too monkeys, and they are not relevant to humans".
Most of the data derived from animals "make sense" when they apply to humans, Merle argues.
There are also fabric banks, which provide fresh or frozen skin of donated dead bodies, that is, corpses.But that dead skin has a smaller range of uses.
Conventional biopsies are the closest alternative, when tissue samples of a living volunteer for diagnosis or clinical study are taken.
But you can only take a limited number of biopsies of a person.As Merle says: "There is no patient in a clinical study that authorizes being converted into a Swiss cheese".
These samples also include hypodermis, the fat layer, which is included in the Genoskin Hyposkin product.The advantage of this layer is that the sample can receive injections.Genoskin
(Genoskin has just requested the patent of a sampling circulation system, which hope it will make the injections further work as in reality).
Biopsies also do not offer immunological or healing responses.But if you cut one of Genoskin's samples, you can see how a wound begins to heal, explains Merle.
The process begins when a patient undergoes cosmetic surgery in a hospital associated with Genoskin in the United States or France.Most are white women between 30 and 60 years, although around 20% of donors are men.
When surgery reserves in one of the hospitals, which Merle refuses to list, the patient is asked if he wants to donate.Merle affirms Business Insider that less than 20% say no.
Those who agree "can change their mind at any time" and are asked for the second time just before surgery, says Merle.
There is no way that none of the 25 Genoskin employees identify the donor, points out.The company only knows its age, sex and ethnicity.They also find out any important health problem, and analyze the samples for HIV.Genoskin
Genoskin says that his process is in line with Helsinki's statement, an agreement adopted for the first time by the World Medical Association in 1964 that establishes ethical standards for the use of human materials in medical research.
Genoskin works indirectly with about 1.000 donors a year in this way, using a strict supply chain.
Merle describes the coordinator of this chain as an "air traffic controller" that supervises a calendar of the next surgeries and compares them to customer schedules.
Coronavirus pandemia has put non -essential surgeries worldwide, stopping skin supply.But on May 11, the day on which France partially lifted its confinement, two new surgeries were launched again.
On the day of surgery, Genoskin usually pays a hospital fee to pack and send the exhibition.The skin floats in a small glass of a solution made by the company, which becomes a gel in the Genoskin laboratory.
In the upper part there is a small circle of meat, up to 2.5 centimeters wide.
There is also a "culture means" under which the skin is kept alive, and that is changed daily.Samples are sent by Fedex in an impact -proof box with controlled temperature.
The skin reaches the client before the first 48 hours after the surgeon's scalpel are completed.From there the skin to receive an injection, be rubbed with substances, cut, burned with ultraviolet light, or more or less subjected to any other process that a researcher wants to see.Genoskin
The ethical limitations meant that Business Insider could not see a sample of the product.But Merle says that the skin seems real.
A fact is that it is exactly as warm as your own skin.While biological samples generally remain cold or frozen, these are living tissues, and remain at body temperature: about 37 degrees Celsius.
The best way to have an idea of how a sample feels is to hold the piece of meat between the thumb and index, says Merle.
"When it is pressed right there, it has a bit of elasticity...People are not accustomed to that, "he says.Genoskin
The probability that the products tested with Genoskin are in your makeup bag is very small, Merle acknowledges.
The cosmetics industry was one of the first to adopt them due to public pressure to find alternatives to animals, but adoption is limited in this area because it costs a lot of money.
Companies "continue to spend much more money on luxury bottles than in science," says Merle."[Genoskin] is a face proposal".
The company has so far self -financed and has not invited any investor, says Merle.According to the public documents available, the company had benefits for three years in a row until 2018, when it lost 167.$ 696.In 2019, the company reached profitability and doubled its size, says Merle.
The company's clientele has been oriented more towards pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies, which are subject to increasingly strict regulation.In 2019, Genoskin was invited to train the FDA reviewers in medication development.
"There will come a time when regulatory agencies will say: 'No, you can't go to test in a human being.I don't care if they are volunteers.I want to see the data before that ".That is the future, "says Merle.
When asking how non -scientists react to their work, he affirms: "We receive more often surprising comments than macabre," he explains."There is a 'wow' factor...I am still impressed every day that this is possible."