Assessing topical treatments for eczema in 3D-biofabricated skin tissue



Traditionally, drugs are developed using cells grown on two-dimensional plastic surfaces that do not mimic the cells’ natural environment in human tissue. Testing potential drugs on these surfaces may give different efficacy and toxicity results compared to their effects in the human body. As a result, therapeutics identified during the initial stages of development often fail in clinical trials due to ineffectiveness in patients or unexpected toxicity.


IRP researchers led by Marc Ferrer, Ph.D., engineered a three-dimensional human skin tissue model that closely mimics cells’ natural environment in the body. They used this model to then create a model of atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as eczema, to test how well topically applied drugs worked to treat the condition and to identify possible localized reactions to the drugs.


Newly developed three-dimensional human tissue models that more closely resemble actual human tissues are more useful for drug development than traditional two-dimensional models. These innovative models could therefore be used in the drug discovery process to help scientists better predict the way patients will respond to potential new therapeutics.


Jung O, Song MJ, Ferrer M. (2021). Operationalizing the use of biofabricated tissue models as preclinical screening platforms for drug discovery and development. SLAS Discov. 26(9):1164-1176. doi: 10.1177/24725552211030903.

Liu X, Michael S, Bharti K, Ferrer M, Song MJ. (2020). A biofabricated vascularized skin model of atopic dermatitis for preclinical studies. Biofabrication. 12(3):035002. doi: 10.1088/1758-5090/ab76a1.

Wei Z, Liu X, Ooka M, Zhang L, Song MJ, Huang R, Kleinstreuer NC, Simeonov A, Xia M, Ferrer M. (2020). Two-dimensional cellular and three-dimensional bio-printed skin models to screen topical-use compounds for irritation potential. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 8:109. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2020.00109.

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This page was last updated on Thursday, June 8, 2023