Promising lab-grown skin sprouts hair and grows glands

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Scientists in Japan have successfully transplanted mice with lab-grown skin that has more of the organ’s working parts in place than ever before.

Starting with stem cells made from a mouse’s gums, they managed to craft skin with multiple layers – as well as hair follicles and sweat glands.

When implanted into a “nude mouse” with a suppressed immune system, it integrated well and sprouted hairs.

Researchers say this success will take 5-10 years to translate into humans.

But eventually, the team hopes their system will lead to perfectly functioning skin that can be grown from the cells of burns victims and transplanted back on to them.

Personalised organs

This would be vastly superior to the culturing and grafting techniques that are currently available, which produce skin without many of the the biological components and functionality that we are used to.

The technique could also be adapted to manufacture realistic skin samples that drug or cosmetics companies could use to test their products – instead of using animals.

The findings, reported in the journal Science Advances, have been greeted with enthusiasm by other scientists working in this field.

Takashi Tsuji is the paper’s senior author. He said the dream of re-growing personalised organs was beginning to materialise:

“Up until now, artificial skin development has been hampered by the fact that the skin lacked the important organs, such as hair follicles and exocrine glands, which allow the skin to play its important role in regulation.

 

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