20 April 2015

CRA-W’s experimental piggery serves industrial research

Whereas CRA-W’s experimental farm is known for its zootechnical approaches with animals, it is also involved in more specific cooperative links that contribute to industrial research. Supplying piglet skin samples for pharmaceutical and cosmetic ingredient cutaneous penetration studies is one of several examples.

Dow Corning, at the Seneffe Business Park, is the world leader for innovation and silicone-based technologies used in many applications in areas ranging from the automotive industry to aviation, construction, electronics, solar energy, cosmetics, medicine, textiles and many more. The Beauty and Health Care Department assesses the performance of silicone technologies in releasing active cosmetic and pharmaceutical agents through the skin. To that end, the department studies the skins of animals that were neither reared nor kept to be used in animal experiments but that died on the farm. Although pigs’ ears from the slaughterhouse are most commonly used, they are not the ideal model for cutaneous penetration studies. The Beauty and Health Care Department therefore switched its attention to newly-dead piglet flanks, as a larger skin area is available and the thickness and quality of the cutaneous tissue are more constant.

A cooperative link with CRA-W was initiated in 2012 in order to use skin samples from piglets that died in the first few days of life.  The skins are removed very soon after the animals die, to preserve the integrity of the skin. The skins are kept in low-temperature storage and treated as soon as they reach the laboratory.  The experimental farm’s rearing systems ensure traceability and enable a strict timetable to be adhered to. Obviously, Dow Corning is authorised to use animal by-products for research purposes and CRA-W has implemented all the operating conditions. As at the end of 2014, more than 115 excisions had contributed to Dow Corning’s industrial research with the aim of developing good methods, significantly improving the reproducibility of the results and increasing the scope of work done by the laboratory and the company overall.

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