From education to employment

3D bioprinter revolutionises skin research

Although Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have a long tradition of growing high value speciality crops and plants, advances in growing technology have removed much of Cornwall’s advantage of early cropping seasons which were once very lucrative. If the project can prove that some of these native Cornish coastal plants and seaweeds can be successfully incorporated into new skincare treatments, it could increase the value of the crops that if grown by Cornish growers could help improve incomes.

The sector is, Dr Hu says, only at “very preliminary stages.” There are big gaps in our understanding and the precise ways in which such ‘marine’ products aid the skin still largely unknown. He says:

“But the proximity to the sea of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, combined with the unique climate of the area, means certain types of plants have always thrived here – and a range of them could have as yet-untapped potential.”

Many plants now native to and thriving in Cornwall were initially brought in by 18th and 19th century plant hunters from all over the globe, and have adapted to and thrived in the Cornish climate. Chinese traditional medicines already incorporate some of the plants that grow wild in hedgerows and cliff faces in Cornwall. If cultivated, these could provide a lucrative asset.

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