Skin grown in lab could eliminate testing on animals

April 29, 2014

Skin grown in a lab from human stem cells could help to eliminate the need to test drugs and cosmetics on animals, according to recent research.

Skin grown in a lab from human stem cells could help to eliminate the need to test drugs and cosmetics on animals, according to recent research.

An international team of researchers from King’s College London and the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center (SFVAMC) grew epidermis from human pluripotent stem cells, according to a news release. Human induced pluripotent stem cells were used to produce an unlimited supply of keratinocytes that closely matched keratinocytes created from human embryonic stem cells and primary keratinocytes from skin biopsies. Researchers then used keratinocytes to manufacture 3-D epidermal matches to build a functional and permeable barrier.

When comparing the lab-grown epidermal equivalents to the epidermis of normal human skin, there was no significant difference in structure or functional properties, researchers noted.

“The ability to obtain an unlimited number of genetically identical units can be used to study a range of conditions where the skin’s barrier is defective,” Theodora Mauro, M.D., a study author and dermatologist at SFVAMC, said in the news release. “We can use this model to study how the skin barrier develops normally, how the barrier is impaired in different diseases and how we can stimulate its repair and recovery.”

The findings were published online April 24 in Stem Cell Reports.