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Lab-Grown Skin

May 9, 2014

Tissue engineers have learned to make more realistic human skin.



Advances in skin engineering. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Researchers have taken a big step forward in creating human skin in the lab.  University of California, San Francisco dermatologist Theodora Mauro is on the team. She says scientists have been growing some kinds of skin cells for decades, but the outer barrier layer has been hard to replicate.

THEODORA MAURO (University of California, San Francisco):

Even recently, the skin that they’ve been able to develop isn’t really like the skin that we’re used to; it’s more of like the skin on the inside of your mouth.

To engineer the barrier layer, her group first converted stem cells to the right cell type. Then they grew the cells on a mesh frame under carefully controlled conditions. The tissue resembled normal human skin according to several measures. It’s hoped that eventually, topical drugs and cosmetics could be tested on skin like this instead of on animals. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.