Clinical research group Venn Life Sciences has acquired the rights to LabSkin (pictured), a human skin substitute that behaves like the real thing, from dermatology CRO Evocutis.
The replacement emulates living skin with both dermal and epidermal layers. The epidermal layer is differentiated, which provides a dry, air-exposed surface to test all aspects of skin microbiology, according to Evocutis.
The dermatology brand is set to receive £210,000 ($350,000) in shares for LabSkin and will also receive 7.5% on the gross sales of the brand for the next three years.
As part of the deal, Venn also acquired SYN1113, an anti-acne compound, which will see the company receive a quarter of the royalties of future sales.
On the approval of Evocutis shareholders, the acquisition is expected to close at the end of the first quarter.
Demand for replacement technologies has grown after a European Union ban on selling cosmetic products tested on animals came into force in March 2013.
“The big market for LabSkin is to replace animal testing,” Declan Service, of InnoVenn, the development division of Venn Life Sciences, told in-Pharmatechnologist.com. But even in the pharmaceutical world where animal testing is legal there would be demand for LabSkin in clinical trials, he said.
“I think there will be a market already for preliminary toxicity tests – the basic steps before you get near animals or humans.”
Pipeline: skin tailored by race
“More than that,” he added, “I’d hope to extend the product line into different skin ethnicities. At the moment it’s a Caucasian 3D model – we’re looking at developing an Asian model, maybe for Chinese or Japanese companies, tailored to their markets.”
“There’s also the possibility to grow bacteria – microflora – on the surface. Therefore you’re able to test anti-bacterial products, and potentially medicinal products.
“From there we want to move further, into the transdermal market.”
Service told us the company would perform “straight product and service development” of LabSkin for outside firms, rather than researching in-house applications for it. “I would see Innovenn’s purpose as a development and commercialisation entity.”
The company is looking to form strategic partnerships with academia and commercial firms and had been in discussions with Bradford University’s Centre for Skin Science in the UK, he said.
‘Human surface science’
The LabSkin acquisition marks a choice by InnoVenn to specialise in skin science. “We have identified skin science as somewhere we want to become niche experts,” said Service, adding this included what he called “human surface science” – skin, mucosae and hair.
Innovenn had “identified wound care and antimicrobial as the next licenses and acquisitions of technology in the pipeline,” he told us.
LabSkin is the latest acquisition by Venn, which in December 2013 bought Northern Irish CRO Medevol for £670,000 ($1.1m).
In November 2013, Venn purchased CRM Clinical Trials , a German CRO, for €600,000 ($810,000).