A unique scientific base
Lyon’s region has a unique and very ancient scientific infrastructure in the field of dermatological research. As of the 1970s, at the instigation of the Pr. Jean Cotte and Pr. Marie-Claude Martini with the creation of the Laboratory of Dermopharmacy and Cosmetology, within the Faculty of Pharmacy, allows the region to develop a first-class scientific expertise in the field of prevention and treatment of skin disorders and in the knowledge of skin penetration by active substances.
The laboratory, currently headed by Marie-Alexandrine Bolzinger, Doctor of Pharmacy and lecturer at the University Lyon 1, has been working since 2002 in close collaboration with a team that specialized in microencapsulation . Then, the laboratory’s efforts were more oriented towards the development of advanced formulations and on an assessment of their action on skin, taking advantage for this of synergies with other top researchers, like the ones in the Laboratory of Skin Replacement integrated into the Edouard Herriot Hospital in Lyons and headed by Odile Damour.
"In 1985, when a person was burned at 40% she would die," explains Odile Damour. It is with the treatments of seriously burned patients, that physicians and researchers specializing in that field at the Edouard Herriot Hospital, became acknowledged experts for growing skin cells and producing reconstituted skin. "It’s in the United States that the first cell therapy solutions emerged, with a first cultured epidermal graft conducted in 1988. As of 1989, researchers in Lyon issued a first publication on the topic of ’reconstructed skin’, and its developments in pharmaco-cosmetology began in the early 1990s".
Thanks to the work and experience accumulated over twenty years, laboratories and researchers in the Lyon’s area have earned in Europe, a solid reputation in tissue engineering (in particular the production of reconstructed epidermis), physiology and skin biology, the development of new active ingredients and ingredients, fine chemicals, and the study and development of new textures.
A Partnership with companies
The specificity of researchers from Lyon, is that they have always closely worked with companies in their region. It is in such circumstances that was created the European Centre of Dermocosmetology (Centre Européen de Dermocosmétologie - CED) in the early 1960s, with the support of the company Gattefossé.
The Lyons region can rely on this account of a diversified industrial infrastructure: raw materials and active cosmetic ingredients (lipochemistry, phytocosmetic biotechnology), formulation, contract manufacturing, service provider specialized in skin biometrics, packaging.
Concerning reconstituted skin tissues, companies in the region quickly seized the scientific and practical opportunity offered by these new developments. And it is Coletica ( ), a manufacturer of actives cosmetic ingredients, who was the very first company to carry out in vitro efficacy testing, soon followed by many others. The importance of these reconstituted tissues became even greater when due to changing attitudes and regulations leading to the ban on animal testing, the manufacturers were forced to find other methods to prove the efficiency and safety of cosmetic products.
"The cells in monolayer and cultured epidermis are used for cytotoxicity tests," explains Odile Damour. "Models of reconstructed skin or epidermis are optimized to test the active ingredients or efficiency of finished products and explain how they work. Some of our models have also been used to evaluate the dermal toxicity, phototoxicity, or for screening of new anti-UVA and anti-UVB molecules".
The contribution of scientific institutions in Lyons also concerns the training of specialists in the industry. The creation in 1970 in the University of Lyons of the first specialized courses in cosmetology as a third cycle diploma is the result of research work previously carried out by the initiators of the CED. Today, cosmetic laboratories belonging to the largest groups turn to people which were trained in the laboratories headed by Odile Damour and Marie-Alexandrine Bolzinger.
Looking for notoriety
"The challenge for these laboratories, but also partly for the CED is to raise public awareness on their expertise," explains Dominique Bouvier, CED’s new president. "By definition scientists prefer to share a discussion with other scientists. This is probably one of the reasons why the region failed to obtain the certification as a competitiveness cluster."
First step leading to this direction: the organization in February 2011 of a scientific congress on the theme "From cell activation to stem cells in dermocosmetology". Organized by the CED and with the support of the Société française de cosmétologie (French Society of Cosmetology), this congress wants to be a preview of IFSCC  world congress scheduled in 2014.