Astonishing discovery means scientists can grow skin in the lab that has hair follicles.
Japanese scientists have grown skin in the lab that has hair follicles and sweat glands, a huge new development that could help burn victims or even lead to a cure for baldness.
Scientists were able to perform the procedure with mice. They used stem cells from the gums of the mouse and craft skin that has multiple layers, and then implanted it on a mouse with a suppressed immune system, according to a RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology statement.
Even though it’s only being used on mice right now, scientists say it may only be five to 10 years before it can be translated to humans — so balding men, don’t lose hope just yet.
More importantly, this discovery could help burn victims regrow skin, and it would be a much better technique than skin grafting, as the skin in that situation doesn’t have a lot of the functionality it usually does.
There are many additional possible uses for this technology. It could also be used to create realistic skin samples for drug and cosmetic companies to test on, instead of using animals.
“Research into bioengineered tissues has led to important achievements in recent years–with a number of different tissue types being created–but there are still obstacles to be overcome,” reads the statement. “In the area of skin tissue, epithelial cells have been successfully grown into implantable sheets, but they did not have the proper appendages–the oil-secreting and sweat glands–that would allow them to function as normal tissue.”
Said Takashi Tsuji of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, who led the study: “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. 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 tissue grown through this method could be used as an alternative to animal testing of chemicals.”
The findings were published in the journal Science Advances.