Scientists from the King’s College London and the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center have created a lab grown at the outermost layer of the human skin. The outermost layer of skin known as epidermis is a protective layer which prevents water from entering and escaping the body, thus, holding out microbes and toxins.
Tissue engineers had previously tried in vain to grow an epidermis with a functional barrier needed for drug testing. The new research used human induced pluripotent stem cells to produce an unlimited supply of pure keratinocytes (predominant cells in the epidermis) that are similar to the keratinocytes obtained from the human embryonic stem cells and primary keratinocytes from skin biopsies.
These keratinocytes were then exposed in a high–to–low humidity environment to build a functional protective barrier, which is necessary for protecting the body from the external factors. The resultant layer created in the lab showed that the new epidermis had properties which are similar to a normal skin. Scientists aim to use this skin for studying different skin ailments as well as try it for testing cosmetics so that animals could be spared.