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New cosmetics such as toothpastes, mouth washes, orthodontic materials, but also orally- transferred medicines, can be tested using this alternative method.

The invention offers a solution to the problems of the oral-cosmetic industry, which currently feels the time pressure of the European ban on animal-tested products. The Mucosa method exploits state-of-the-art tissue-engineering techniques, thus promising high commercial value.

The method involves culturing gingival (gum) in a dish. From very small pieces of tissue (5 mm 2 ) routinely removed during general dentistry practise, up to 30 pieces of cultured gingival each of 6 cm 2 can be grown. This cultured 3-dimensional gingival can be tested with new substances which may form ingredients of current or novel products.

It can be determined whether or not the substance has irritant or toxic properties. In this way, once the assay has been fully validated, it can totally replace the use of animals for oral risk assessment. Currently there are no assays – animal or in vitro – which accurately assess the risk of substances used in the oral cavity.