Lab grown skin can prevent animal testing

Posted Apr 25, 2014 by Tim Sandle
Human skin grown in the laboratory can be used to replace animals used in drug and cosmetics testing, according to a new report.
Dan Strange
A research group has grown a layer of human skin from stem cells, according to the Daily Mail. Stem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms. The cells can differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells. In mammals, there are two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells, which are found in various tissues. The new research used reprogrammed skin cells — which offer a way to produce an unlimited supply of the main type of skin cell found in the epidermis.
The newly grown skin is said to closest to human skin than ever before in terms of look and feel. This makes it an ideal and cost-effective alternative to testing drugs and cosmetics on animals. According to The Indepndent, drug companies will now be able to test drugs on a large scale using the new functional skin, screening them for any potential harm.
The Humane Society International, which works to protect animals, including those in laboratories, welcomed the research, according to the BBC. Research and toxicology director Troy Seidle is quoted as saying: "This new human skin model is superior scientifically to killing rabbits, pigs, rats or other animals for their skin and hoping that research findings will be applicable to people — which they often aren't, due to species differences in skin permeability, immunology, and other factors."
The study was carried out at King's College London by a team led by Dr Dusko Ilic. The findings have been published in the journal Stem Cell Reports. The paper is titled "3D In Vitro Model of a Functional Epidermal Permeability Barrier from Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells."