This innovation is called "MONTHS", for "Model Of reiNnervaTed Human Skin" and could well change the lives of laboratory animals. This is the in vitro development of human skin re-innervated by neurons of human origin. The result of fifteen years of research within the LIEN (Laboratory interactions epithelia-neurones) of the University of Western Brittany.
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Dr. Nicolas Lebonvallet, project manager, and Laurent Misery, professor and researcher in dermatology, head of the laboratory, were looking to develop a technology that is unique in the world: it is now done.
"Our branch of research is the interaction between the skin and the nervous system," explains Nicolas Lebonvallet. To put it simply, we have recovered neurons from human surgical waste in order to graft them onto human skin – or at least onto skin made up of human elements. The idea was to stop using tests, cosmetics, for example, on animals, to arrive at results as close as possible to humans. »
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Since 2013 (European Regulation 1223/2009), animal testing has been banned for the testing of cosmetic products in Europe and the rule tends to become widespread worldwide.
The technique developed in Brest, which already works and interests the cosmetics industry, is about to become a powerful and innovative tool for in vitro testing of products. "From 2024, this skin could also be used in the pharmaceutical industry, especially for drugs for pruritic diseases, such as eczema or prurigo," adds Nicolas Lebonvallet.
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The potential benefits are therefore numerous and a patent is currently being filed. "We don't intend to stop there either," says Ophélie Pierre, a research engineer on the project for the past three years. The very idea of this new skin model is to better understand the functioning of the skin and the nervous system. »
This breakthrough for the scientific community was rewarded at the international Cosmetic Victories competition in April 2023. Ophélie Pierre went to present this innovation in April in Paris. "MONTHS" won the international academic prize among 112 entries from a dozen countries. Recognition.