Lab-Grown Skin Can Sweat And Sprout Hair

Posted: Apr 3 2016, 12:59am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 3 2016, 8:28pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Lab-Grown Skin can Sweat and Sprout Hair
Credit: Takashi Tsuji | RIKEN

Scientists have created an artificial skin that can sweat and grow hair. This skin can help people suffering from sever burn, baldness and other skin diseases.

Japanese researchers have successfully grown a complex artificial skin in the lab with complete hair folicles and sweat glands.

When the skin was implanted into the living mice, it connected well with nerve and muscle fibers in the body and sprouted hair, meaning that this skin can function normally the same way as the natural skin does.

With this finding, researchers can hope to develop better skin transplant for those patients who are burnt or require new skin for any other reason. However, researchers suggest that it could take few more years to translate this technology into humans.

“Our study contributes to the development of bioengineering technologies that will enable future regenerative therapies for patients with burns, scars and alopecia (baldness).” Authors said in a statment.

Previous lab-grown skin that had been successfully used in human patients were not complete and had just one or two layers of tissue. They lacked hair follicles and the glands that release sweat and oil known as sebum. 

“Up until now, artificial skin development has been hampered by the fact that skin lacked the important organs, such as hair follicles and exocrine glands, which allow the skin to play its important role in regulation,” said Takashi Tsuji of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, who led the study. 

“With this new technique, we have successfully grown skin that replicates the function of normal tissue. We are coming ever closer to the dream of being able to recreate actual organs in the lab for transplantation and also believe that tissues grown through this method could be used as an alternative to animal testing of chemicals.”

To develop the artificial skin, researchers took cells from the gums of a mouse and transformed them into iPS cells that looked similar to stem cells. These chemically manipulated cells were much like if they were part of a mouse embryo. Once they had enough tissues, researchers implanted the artificial skin into the mice that have been genetically modified to a suppressed immune system and hairless bodies. The transplanted skin adapted nicely to the mice bodies and matured into a skin that was capable of growing hair and producing oils and working properly with other organ systems. 

The most important thing was that the implanted tissue formed normal connections with surrounding nerve and fiber tissues. Otherwise it could not function properly and grow hair like natural skin.

The findings were published in journal Science Advances.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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