Working with Business


Faster Drug Trials Offered by Skin Assay Spin-out

Newcastle University’s expertise in skin assays has led to a successful spin-out company, Alcyomics Ltd, that promises to speed up tests of new drugs and cosmetic products.

Sector: Healthcare

The breakthrough research underpinning Alcyomics Ltd has been led by Professor Anne Dickinson and Dr Xiao Wang, who work at Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine.

Alynomics logo.


Professor Dickinson has developed ways to gather data on the safety of drugs and cosmetic products without using animals or pre-clinical testing on human volunteers. The test, known as a skin explants assay (Skimune™), has emerged from 20 years of research at Newcastle University.

The assay was originally focused on predicting graft versus host disease (a serious complication of bone marrow transplantation) occurring in patients after a transplant.


Today the assay has much wider applications. Professor Dickinson’s methodologies can help predict side effects such as allergic reactions and safety of new drugs. The assays can also be used for cosmetic products, chemicals and biologics providing safety data on, for example, contact sensitivity – without the need for animal testing.

Following on from this work, Alcyomics have developed a full-thickness 3D skin equivalent model providing an autologous system with skin cells and blood from the same healthy volunteer. This in vitro system complements SkimuneTM and represents a novel testing platform for toxicology testing and novel compound screening.

Alcyomics are also in the process of developing novel assays with the aim to provide safety testing platforms for new classes of drugs and biologics currently under development, extending our service provision to clients

Newcastle University spun out Alcyomics Ltd in 2007. Since then the company has proved it has truly international appeal, carrying out assays for clients not just within the UK but also within Europe.


Professor Dickinson currently divides her time between Alcyomics and academic work.

The development of the autologous 3D skin equivalent model was made possible by a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) between Alcyomics and Professor Penny Lovat (Dermatological Sciences). These two examples demonstrates the strong cross-over between the academic and commercial worlds at Newcastle University.