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  • Skin Culture System Offers Animal Free Testing
    Dr Robyn Hickerson and Dr Michael Conneely

Skin Culture System Offers Animal Free Testing

Oct 13 2020 Read 368 Times

Dundee spinout company Ten Bio Ltd won £65,000 at the Scottish Virtual EDGE Awards (Oct 7), the UK’s largest business funding competition supporting Scotland’s high-growth potential start-up businesses. It received one of three IBioIC Awards which are partially funded by The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC).

The new venture has successfully created a patented, human skin culture system that offers an alternative for many experiments currently only performed in animals. Ten Bio Ltd has since secured funding from the Scottish Enterprise Early Stage COVID Pre-Seed Fund and have recently signed a contract with a global cosmetics company.

Dr Robyn Hickerson and Dr Michael Conneely of the University’s School of Life Sciences, were initially developing explant skin models to enable their drug discovery programmes and founded the new company to develop the TenSkin™ system, which mimics the mechanobiology that exists in intact, living skin on the body.

 “The skin that covers our body is under tension, this has been known for a long time,” said Dr Conneely. “Other models don’t incorporate this tension and this is why our product is more effective. When skin is removed from the body it contracts as the tension relaxes. By stretching the skin to an optimal tension, we have created a model that will allow pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies to generate pre-clinical data that will be much more predictive of what is likely to be seen in the clinic.”

Dr Hickerson said, “There is a disconnect between animals and humans when you’re trying to develop therapeutics. While animals can serve as good analogues to study general principles, they often fail when it comes to specific details due to animal/human species differences. These details matter when it comes to developing safe and effective drugs for humans.

“Upwards of 90% of drugs that are proven safe and effective in animals fail during clinical trials. Our model will help reduce this costly failure rate.”

Dr Hickerson was also named a runner-up in the Converge Challenge category of Converge 2020, receiving £29,000 in cash and in-kind business support.

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