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Laboratories for New Skills

1973 • 2012

Gattefossé has always looked to acquire the research equipment it needs to fulfill its ambitions. At the start of the 20th century, the research laboratory was just a lean-to in the garden of the family home. In the 1920s, the factory boasted an expansive space for research and formulation activities. In 1973, Gattefossé opened a “pilots and processes” facility, and in 2012, a cell culture laboratory.


Back in the 1960s, when clients were complaining about issues related to Suppocire® (friability, cracking when releasing tablets from molds), Gattefossé created a suppository manufacturing facility at its (small) premises on Rue Constant in Lyon. The aim was to reproduce the problems faced by clients on a smaller scale. In this way, Gattefossé could understand why certain issues were occurring and how to deal with them. In 1973, the new “pilots and processes” laboratory at the vast Saint-Priest site was created for similar reasons. There was a need, of course, to carry on inventing new excipients and also a need to help clients integrate those excipients effectively into their own formulations.

However, between those two stages, Gattefossé needed to ensure that products leaving the research laboratory could be manufactured in larger quantities. In other words, products needed to progress from the prototype stage to mass production without losing their initial properties.

Setting up a “pilots and processes” laboratory was, therefore, an important step for the business.

Laboratory on Saint-Priest site, 1966.

The 1950s saw unprecedented creative scientific advances (Labrafil® and Suppocire® were both invented in 1954), and the 1960s would be remembered for “industrial” pharmaceuticals’ growing power. However, the 1970s would be celebrated for the launch of Gattefossé’s new laboratory dedicated to pilot testing, adding to existing research and applications laboratories. The new facility had to fulfill several objectives: to convert R&D formulae into industrial applications, to research components of excipients best adapted to specific pharmaceutical needs and pharmacological trends, and to study the stability and rheological constants of industrial preparations.

Pretty much everything!


In 2010, Gattefossé opened a new building on the Saint-Priest site: the Blanche Gattefossé Formulation Biopole. The new facility housed the applications laboratories and furnished them with extra equipment. Space was also allocated to cell culture, a process that was new to the business. The aim was for Gattefossé to carry out studies on its own cosmetic active ingredients.

The ISO 8-certified laboratory started operating in 2012 and was equipped with biochemical and imaging equipment. Its objectives were threefold: to identify beneficial properties of plant extracts developed by Gattefossé, to carry out in vitro and ex vivo testing of the company’s own cosmetic active ingredients, and to provide direction to clinical studies.

Gattefossé had cutting edge-equipment, but also employees with new skills.

The “pilots and processes” laboratory helped the business to successfully project how its products could be manufactured in the future. And the cell culture laboratory meant Gattefossé could control the upstream phase through early in vitro and ex vivo evaluation of possible skin reactions to the application of plant extracts or lipid excipients.

The cell culture laboratory.

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Laboratories for New Skills