Venn bought Labskin, a laboratory human skin model technology from Evocutis last year. At present cosmetics firms are the primary customers largely due to the recently introduced European ban on the sale of make-up tested on animals.
However, the technology has pharmaceutical industry potential according to Declan Service, managing director of Venn’s InnoVenn arm, who told us “dermal drug delivery and safety testing are likely to be important areas going forward.”
As yet, no drugmakers are using Labskin for product development and Venn has not started the costly process of winning regulatory approval.
Instead Venn’s approach is to “collaborate with universities involved in drug research in the UK and Ireland” according to Service, who added “we’ve also met key drug industry people at events focused on replacing and reducing animal tests used in drug research.”
Animal testing alternatives
Alternatives to animal testing are a hot topic for the drug industry at the moment.
Last week scientists voiced concerns an anti-animal cruelty pledge signed by several MPs was also a threat to legitimate and necessary research.
Similarly, on the other side of the Atlantic, attendees at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) conference discussed alternatives to animal-based tests which – despite being a requirement for approval by most regulators – are “archaic and unreliable” according to campaigning group PETA.
What impact Labskin or other potential alternatives to animal testing will have on the pharmaceutical industry remains to be seen, however, Venn is focused on making the technology as flexible as possible with the drug sector in mind.
Service told us that unlike the existing 6 well-plate version, the recently launched 12 well-plate version of Labskin was developed for smaller, more complex studies requiring additional technical and biological replicates such as those used in drug development.