Skin cells grown in lab for first time ever
Scientists have developed first ever lab-grown epidermis, the outermost skin layer, which has a functional permeability barrier akin to real skin.
The lab-grown epidermis, developed by the researchers from by King's College London and the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center (SFVAMC), is grown from human pluripotent stem cells and offers a cost-effective alternative lab model for testing drugs and cosmetics, and could also help to develop new therapies for rare and common skin disorders.
The scientists used human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) to produce an unlimited supply of pure keratinocytes, which closely match keratinocytes generated from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) and primary keratinocytes from skin biopsies.
According to the study, keratinocytes were then used to manufacture 3D epidermal equivalents in a high-to-low humidity environment to build a functional permeability barrier, which is essential in protecting the body from losing moisture, and preventing the entry of chemicals, toxins and microbes.
Dr Theodora Mauro, leader of the SFVAMC team, said that 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 due to mutations in genes involved in skin barrier formation, such as ichthyosis (dry, flaky skin) or atopic dermatitis and they 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 study was published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.
(Posted on 25-04-2014)