Ten Bio Ltd

Published on 3 February 2022

Ten Bio Ltd is a spin out from the University of Dundee that aims to transform pharmaceutical and cosmetic testing by offering an alternative for many experiments currently only performed in animals

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“There is a disconnect between animals and humans when you’re trying to develop therapeutics. While animals can serve as good analogues to study general principles, they often fail when it comes to specific details due to animal/human species differences. These details matter when it comes to developing safe and effective drugs for humans. Upwards of 90% of drugs that are proven safe and effective in animals fail during clinical trials. Our model will help reduce this costly failure rate.”

Dr Robyn Hickerson

Ten Bio Ltd brings the next generation of ex vivo skin culture to the market with their unique tension-based technology, TenSkin™, that allows retention of viability and closely mimics live skin on the body, providing companies with a reliable skin testing model that serves as an effective alternative to animal testing.

Ten Bio Ltd. grew within the University’s School of Life Sciences, where founders Dr Robyn Hickerson and Dr Michael Conneely were initially developing explant skin models to enable their drug discovery programmes. After years of progress, the company founders successfully created a human skin culture system that closely mimics intact living skin.

Mechanical tension is a key aspect of skin homeostasis on the body and is therefore an important factor in regulating tissue structure and physiological function. Ten Bio’s TenSkin™ is prepared from ethically sourced and fully consented surplus surgical tissue and recapitulates this natural tension, restoring skin’s inherent mechanobiology, enabling a more in vivo-like behaviour and response to external stimuli.  This provides opportunity to better understand the true impact of compounds or events on the skin in research and development programmes

“The skin that covers our body is under tension, this has been known for a long time,” said Dr Conneely. “Other models don’t incorporate this tension, and this is why our product is more effective. When skin is removed from the body it contracts as the tension relaxes. By stretching the skin to an optimal tension, we have created a model that will allow pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies to generate pre-clinical data that will be much more predictive of what is likely to be seen in the clinic.”

Although there is a complete ban on testing cosmetics and cosmetics’ ingredients in animals in the EU, with many global cosmetics companies adhering to similar guidelines, animal experimentation is still the gold standard within the pharmaceutical field to help explore whether potential drugs are suitable for testing in humans. Animal testing is often a subject of ethical controversy, with many raising concerns about the reliability of the method. Ten Bio’s new approach aims to significantly reduce animal usage for skin related research making it now possible to generate highly informative pre-clinical data often more relevant than that obtained from experiments in animals.

The company is based in Dundee and has recently opened a second laboratory in Kannapolis, North Carolina to expand the services it can offer to clients.

“Ten Bio’s in vitro science and technology offers a reliable and credible alternative to some usage of animal testing and a more accurate testing of products en route to market for both pharma/biotech and cosmetic companies. This is an innovative company with an exciting commercial future ”

Moray Martin, Tricapital chief executive


Nicola Madill

Marketing Manager

+44 (0)1382 381889