For many years, we’ve asked ourselves: What’s in the water in Finland? Now, the Finns are ready to answer: What’s in the tissue?
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
November 21, 2023
In 2005, the Professor in cell biology Timo Ylikomi and PhD in cell biology Riina Uusmies at Tampere University were inspired by the wide possibilities of adipose tissue. They founded Linio Biotech and now, after more than 15(!) years of development, Finland is ready to deliver another groundbreaking innovation to the world. Enter: Tience.
— The name reflects the nature and history of the product — deriving from ’tissue science’, says Uusmies, co-founder and now COO of mother company Linio Biotech. There’s a long and very, very high-quality research behind it. The product is derived from human tissue and this tissue product comes with a new, unique technology. There’s no other like it.
— We are protected by three international patent families, with a fourth one pending, in the EU and US. We are well covered, CEO Karita Reijonsaari adds.
— What Tience does, she continues, is that it can improve skin’s own functionality, providing an optimal microenvironment in the site where it’s applied and helping defective skin to heal itself. In Tience, we have all the proteins that are needed, in a vial, in order to get the skin to heal itself.
According to Reijonsaari, both the adipose tissue and the regenerative powers are very interesting for the company.
— The same hypothesis that started from the university research is still the key hypothesis for the company. We exist to solve the problem of what if defective skin could heal itself. What if we can return the functionality to the skin? We don’t talk about quick fixes but actually regenerating healthy skin.
What can you say about the development process until where we are today? More than 15 years, what took you so long?
— It takes a while when you are new, Uusmies explains. There have been three PhDs done on the innovation, so lots of university studies, and we’ve done detailed and very rigorous research, from lab studies to clinical studies. There hasn’t been a way to do this before, so you have to find new methods and new ways of doing things based on what originally was just a beautiful idea. These days, it’s a known fact in research that adipose tissue is a very rich source, and is the only tissue that can expand, develop, and change during a human’s lifetime. It’s a very active tissue. We had the dream that we could capture the power of adipose tissue in a bottle.
— What obviously also takes a long time is the fact that you come up with a great innovation and then you test whether it actually works. Then, you get promising results and our founders did a really important work in understanding how and where the product could be made, and what the production process would take. And we obviously did a lot of work with regulatory, so we have done a very rigorous process with the Finnish Medical Agency to follow every single rule that there is to bring a new product like this to the market. So not only the research but also the regulatory tracks are hardcore. It takes time to get the authorisations.
What have been your main challenges throughout the process?
— As mentioned, being a pioneer in the field means that it takes a lot of time to at least figure out that everything works and then to convince people and give them the knowledge of the technology, says Uusmies.
— We have the first ready-to-use product in the regenerative aesthetics field, where the current methods are nano fat transfers, fat transfers, and Platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which are all very hard for the patient. You transfer blood or fat from one place to another, from yourself to yourself. We offer a ready-to-use product alternative in the regenerative aesthetics field, says Reijonsaari.
— Another challenge is of course that you need to know so many things from different fields; research, product development, regulatory, and more. It takes time to compile this all together and get the product to the shelf and to the market, says Uusmies.
— What’s also very specific for us is that we wish to be not only backed up by research but, going forward, to be a research organisation as well, says Reijonsaari. One of the things that have taken a lot of time is the studies and clinical trials on the safety of this product. For example, we did a large safety trial in 2021 and 2022, and we are currently doing two clinical trials and a lot of data collection from the industry. Data and gathering of the data is something that’s very close at heart for our operations. We wish to keep building more and more research on different indications, different uses, and heavy proof of the efficacy of this product. Again, backing up the fact that this is so new.
What have you learned throughout those years?
— So much! says Reijonsaari. We know that we have an innovation that works and has regenerative powers, a bio-stimulation product that has efficacy. We know that it works for many indications in fixing defective skin — it can be used for not only fixing wrinkles but also for scar care or different skin defects. We know that clinicians want this and that there is a huge demand in the market for solutions where you end up looking like yourself but with healthier and better functionality of your skin. And we know that the market is changing towards favouring outcomes like ours. People don’t want to look like someone else, but like themselves — but better.
— And we’ve learned that our product is safe. We continuously follow safety data all day, every day, and collect any indication of side effects. To date, we have not had any but that doesn’t mean that there will never be. We’ve also learned much about the market and how to enter it with a product like ours, and a lot about regulatory. I think startups are learning machines — you accumulate 360 degrees of information from all around you. When the product is a new biostimulator in regenerative aesthetics, you’re also going towards a completely new market. We aim to be the leader in regenerative aesthetics globally, says Reijonsaari.
— Being one of the founders and the one starting the work in a lab, I’ve learned that things can be possible, Uusmies states. There were people saying that you cannot do it, that it’s so unreal, and I was just thinking that this will be done. And with the hard work, it’s here.
And what can you say about the technology?
— We are a professional product — it can only be used by doctors and nurses and since it is an injectable, they have to be trained to use our product. There are a couple of ways of doing Tience treatments but you always have to get under the skin and we aim to be in the dermis layer. You can do it by injection or in combination with other therapies like microneedling, lasers, or superficial needling. What happens with biostimulation is that it returns the functionality of the skin which has started to lack due to aging or defect. We want to give the skin the toolbox and the tools it needs to start functioning the way it’s supposed to, Reijonsaari explains. She continues:
— It takes a little bit of time. When I used it, within three weeks, I was able to see the surface layer of my skin heal and my old sun damage being wiped away. We get similar experiences from all of our clients. At first, when you get the treatment, nothing happens immediately but in a few weeks, you will start seeing your skin heal itself and wrinkles erasing. We can also offer a long-term result, which is not tied to the product — it is your skin returned to do what it’s supposed to do.
And what is it that happens to the skin?
— As mentioned, the product gives an optimal microenvironment at the place of supply, Uusmies explains. So, it gives the tools for the cells to start to talk to each other again. Then, they can start growing and creating the normal tissue again where the defect is. We provide the toolbox and the pieces to the site. What first happens is that it quickly induces microvascularisation in tissue, meaning that the small capillaries start to grow. When the capillaries grow, they bring food and nutrients to the cells. That will further provide the cells the possibility to grow, start creating the normal tissue, and get back to its normal state.
What’s your view on the industry? How’s it doing?
— It is really booming, says Reijonsaari. The aesthetic market throughout the world is gigantic. And actually, if you just look at the numbers, aesthetics is something that keeps growing all around the world — and it’s not very much tied to economic trends. Even through COVID, people were getting a lot of these treatments. There are a lot of new products coming to the market but rarely is there an industry-changing innovation. This industry has been changed a few times, by introduction of Hyaluronic acid fillers, the introduction of Botulinum toxin, and the introduction of laser technology for renewing the skin. What rarely happens is that there is something that changes the overall logic of how skin is treated.
— Now, we see that the regenerative aesthetics field, when using fat transfers, PRPs, Nano fats, and other methods, is growing very fast. Actually the fastest within this industry — double-digit numbers. I think it reflects the fact that people don’t want the artificial. They want a safe one and they want a natural look. That’s why regenerative aesthetics is getting that much traction. That part of the industry does not have products and is solely driven by methods up to date. We obviously hope and think that the regenerative aesthetics could grow even faster with a ready product like ours.
Can you take a future perspective as well? What will we see in the next few years?
— I think the regenerative aesthetics will be booming — that definitely seems to be getting a lot of traction, says Reijonsaari. I think we’re going to see a counter-trend to the overuse of Hyaluronic acid because there is a lot of concern about the overuse of artificial products. I think we’re going to see growth in the industry — aesthetics is really something that people are willing to invest their money into. And I think we are going to see new innovations. There’s definitely interest towards this industry and scientists are also very interested in regenerative solutions.
And for you, what’s next?
— Bringing our product to the international market, first in the Nordics, says Reijonsaari. Then, as the Nordic is covered and we have learnings from the home markets, we hope to expand fast. Obviously, we don’t know what other science may be cooking somewhere. Currently, we don’t have a comparable product. The biostimulation regenerative aesthetics is really taking us back to talking about skin and its functionality. What does it mean to have healthy, vital, good-looking skin? And what part does that play in aesthetics? That’s pretty much where we think that regenerative aesthetics is the key and the answer.
This insights piece was previously published in our weekly intelligence newsletter Beauty Innovation. Sign up now for access to yearly insights reports, and secure invites to exclusive live talks and events!