A scientific team from the Carlos III University of Madrid, the Polytechnic of Madrid (UPM) and other Spanish institutions designed a new biochip with which the leather manufacturing process is simplified in vitro and other complex multilayer fabrics.

THE patterned human skin with this device can be used in the test of medicines and cosmetics, which would reduce the cost of these preclinical trials, say the researchers.


This biochip is made from micro-machined biocompatible vinyl adhesive sheets. “Most microfluidic devices of this type are made using ultraviolet lithography, a very expensive and complex technique that requires highly specialized instruments and highly skilled personnel. On the other hand, our technology is very cheap, accessible to any laboratory and versatile, since the designs can be modified at practically zero cost”, he explains. Letícia Valencia, from the Department of Bioengineering and Aerospace Engineering at UC3M.

The device allows for skin culture in vitro inside you. It is divided into two overlapping channels separated by a porous membrane: the lower channel simulates blood flow; by the upper, the skin is generated which is nourished by the culture medium that flows through the lower channel through the membrane.

The work does not have a clinical objective, but is oriented towards the replacement of animal models in drug and cosmetic tests, since these tests could be performed directly on the microfluidic platform.


as explained Ignacio Risueño, also from UC3M, “all flows are controlled by high-precision syringe pumps and the procedure is performed in cell culture room and sterile environment. The biochips are incubated in an environment with controlled humidity, with 5% CO2 and a temperature of 37ºC”.

Generation of a three-dimensional skin

This platform and the techniques developed were tested in a proof of concept that consisted of generating a three-dimensional skin with its two main layers. The dermis was modeled with a fibrin hydrogel, while the epidermis is obtained with a monolayer of keratinocytes that are seeded on the fibrin gel.

In addition, researchers have developed a new method to control the height of the dermis that is based on parallel flow, a technique that allows for a deposition process. on site of the dermal and epidermal compartments.

This work does not have a clinical objective, but aims to replace animal models in drug and cosmetic tests, since these tests could be performed directly on this microfluidic platform.

In fact, there is a Europe directive For which it is not allowed to manufacture cosmetic products that have been tested on animals in Europe.

“Despite not having clinical implantation directly in the patient, it would allow studies in customized skin models. This would consist of taking cells through a biopsy of a patient and generating the skin model in the microfluidic device using its cells. In this way, the response of that particular patient to a treatment or medication could be verified individually”, indicate the researchers.

Both the biochip and the protocols developed can be extrapolated to any other complex tissue that has the same structure as the skin.

Development of new drugs

It could also be used to more easily model tissues that consist of a single monolayer of cells, as is the case with most organs on a chip. This cell culture system simulates key functional aspects of living organs on a microscopic scale, which is useful for new drug development and a lower cost alternative to animal experimentation for toxicological studies and clinical trials.

The future challenges lie in achieving mature skin, that is, with a fully differentiated epidermis, with all its layers. In addition, the integration of biosensors that allow real-time monitoring of skin status can be studied, as well as testing this model as a test method.

In this line of research, which has generated several publications in Scientific Reports and other scientific journals, researchers from UC3M, UPM, from the Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT), from Hospital Clínico San Carlos, from the Gregorio Marañón Health Research Institute at Gregorio Marañón Hospital and from and participated. of the BIOPIELTEC-CM project of the Community of Madrid.