What Integumen does
The backbone of the company is a product called Labskin, a laboratory-grown skin that is used by cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies to see how their latest products will react with human skin.
It differs from rival innovations in not having to exist in a sterile environment. And, as chief executive Gerry Brandon pointed out in a recent interview, this has many advantages. “With Labskin, we can grow bacteria on it, so we can create models for acne, eczema, psoriasis and so on. It has even been tested on Ebola,” he told Proactive.
In short, Labskin gives scientists a much better idea of how their cream or gel or make-up will react in the real world. Not only does it make animal testing redundant, the added accuracy it gives researchers reduces R&D costs by helping to improve success rates.
It owns STOER, a premium skin care range for men and also has a 9.35% stake in Cellulac, which produces biodegradable plastic ingredients and natural oils.
With the help of artificial intelligence firm Rinocloud, which it bought in April, the Integumen is building Labskin-on-a-chip, which will record every treatment tested on the Labskin platform and store its effects in a database. That will give every dermatology clinic with a computer the ability to take a swab of a patient’s own skin bacteria, place it on the Labskin, run it against the database, and advise what the best course of treatment might be.
Then there’s Labskin AI, a digital extension to the lab-grown skin. Earlier this month (May 10) the firm announced the roll-out of a Labskin AI product designed to clone the skin of volunteers in clinical trials. The company said the new test would cut the number of volunteers required for trials by 50%, reducing recruitment times and project management costs.
CEO Brandon said in his recent Proactive interview the combination of Labskin-on-a-chip and Labskin AI should take Integumen to the next level.
Changes to EU regulation, meanwhile, will also see an uptick in testing of skin products that should prompt a rise in demand for its technology.
Brandon in a video interview said the company was receiving unsolicited interest in its products from the healthcare and health and beauty sectors.
Along with the £3mln deal to buy Rinocloud, the company unveiled a share placing to raise just over £2.75mln. It has also tidied up its balance sheet by swapping certain debts for equity.
Current trading appears to be strong. Brandon said in a May 21 update: “With a more focused business, and in line with our strategy, we have now been able to demonstrate our ability to grow, both organically and through the successful post year-end transactions.
“Our digital and physical team members, across all subsidiaries, continue to deliver consistent reliable revenue growth as we scale-up our new digital platform."
What the boss says: chief executive Gerry Brandon
“There isn’t out there on the market any way that you actually can have a psoriasis testing platform unless you go into animal studies.”
“You are saving multiple years of development time and getting the product to the market faster.”