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Synthetic membrane with lanolin to mimic human skin

Scientists at the IQAC-CSIC have developed a lanolin-based synthetic membrane as a model for percutaneous absorption assays. The membrane mimics the behavior of mammal's skin and it can be used for permeability assays of drugs and cosmetics. It improves the current models of artificial skin.

Graphic of the lanolin-based membrane.Assessment of percutaneous absorption of molecules is a key step in the evaluation of compounds such as creams or liquids to be applied on skin.

Several models have been developed to avoid ‘in vivo’ studies with humans, which are avoided for ethical and economic reasons. The models include tests in vitro with human or animal skin samples, and with artificial skin models. However, the ‘in vitro’ skin models are expensive, sensitive to storage and show a high variability. Moreover, current polymeric artificial membrane skin models are not always representative of human skin properties.

Therefore, alternative methods are needed to obtain reproducible and reliable data, to provide a meaningful prediction of the effectiveness of the product on human skin.

Scientists at the Instituto de Quimica Avanzada de Catalunya (IQAC-CSIC) have developed a model lanolin based synthetic membrane model. The structure of lanolin used, which is extracted from wool fibers, mimics the lipidic matrix of the Stratum corneum as it has a similar chemical composition and properties.

The scientists tested the model and have demonstrated that it is a good model that mimics the skin barrier properties.

It is a reliable, inexpensive alternative to human or animal skin, and improves the properties of current commercial synthetic membranes. This model could be used for evaluating skin absorption of cosmetic products, and for toxicological screening of transdermal delivery of chemicals


Isabel Masip
Deputy Vice-Presidency for
Knowledge Transfer -CSIC
Tel: + 34 – 93 442 65 76

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