'Virtual patient' firm signs up Unilever

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The Independent Online

The life sciences group Entelos has developed a "virtual patient" for the consumer goods giant Unilever that simulates the sensitivities of human skin and should dramatically reduce the amount of animal testing needed to develop beauty products.

Entelos, a California-based company that listed on AIM in April, specialises in creating computer models of human physiology for drug development and product testing.

Following an European Union ruling to the cosmetics industry to find alternatives to animal testing by 2013, Unilever, which makes Dove, Impulse, Lynx and Timotei among other household brands, approached Entelos and asked it to develop a mathematical model representing a skin allergy. Unilever wanted to reduce and eventually eradicate the need for animal testing in the development of its cosmetic products. The system is not exclusive to Unilever and can be used for further research. Entelos retains full rights to the technology including rights for pharmaceutical applications.