Rosalind Hannen

Queen Mary University of London

Rosalind Hannen

Keratify – Advancing skin barriers

Providing a novel skin culture platform circumventing limitations of standard methods to improve skin modelling and drug testing

There are fundamental problems with human skin culture that we have resolved with our new skin culture device. Human skin could not be maintained in culture in a state that matches normal, healthy physiology for longer than 24 hours. Regulatory guidelines stipulate cultured skin should be used within this time frame to assess all forms of chemical testing. The problem is that skin breaks down rapidly when in culture, the barrier function is lost and the skin immediately behaves in a semi-wounded state as soon as it is removed from the body. We have developed a novel device that can maintain human skin in its natural physiological state for longer than any other system currently available. We aim to change regulatory guidelines and develop new types of testing methods that were not previously possible.

The technology can also be applied to 3D skin culture. 3D skin systems (where skin cells are reconstructed to look like human skin) offer some of the most advanced tissue engineering technology available. Yet these 3D skin systems are also flawed since they behave in a semi-wounded state and are far too permeable to chemicals. Our technology can make 3D skin systems behave more similarly to the healthy physiological state.

The market for 3D culture systems is growing and forecast to reach USD 1.72 billion in 2022. Cosmetic companies are entirely dependent upon human skin models since the introduction of the 2013 EU animal testing ban for cosmetics. Cosmetic companies and clinical tissue engineering (e.g. for burns patients) have largely driven the market for 3D skin models. The global Cosmeceuticals Market was worth USD 35.64 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach approximately USD 75.33 billion by 2023. Currently skin systems command approximately 50% of the tissue engineering market, set to grow to USD 16.82 billion in 2023. Here we have resolved a 50 year problem in skin culture and aim to become a new market creator in this sector.

We are actively seeking companies that would like to advance their skin culture and testing capabilities to aid the validation of this technology. We specifically aim to address new experimental needs that are not currently satisfied by standard methods. We offer a unique, bespoke testing platform, exceptional access to human skin tissue and over 12 years’ of expertise in dermatology research.

Conected Mentors

Kateryna Portmann

Stategic Alliance Manager

Rani Saad

Angel Investor

Diagnostics Accelerator Programme: market access planning and evidence generation

Delivered in partnership with the National Institute of Health Research London In Vitro Diagnostics unit this six-week evidence generation focused programme will support medtech innovators to de-risk the path to successful deployment through the development of a business case validating their clinical, financial and social claims. This way, when innovators approach the health system, they are comfortable in the knowledge that the product achieves what it is designed to do.

Applications Open (closing 7 March 2021)