Scientists are able to grow the outer layer of skin – the epidermis – from stem cells in culture, but such lab-grown skin isn’t fully functional. A new improved approach devised by scientists in Japan, however, takes lab-grown skin to another level, or perhaps another layer. Using special culturing conditions, the researchers have succeeded in generating all three layers of skin – epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous adipose tissue – from mouse induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Importantly, this more complete skin can support the growth and development of hair follicles and sebaceous glands, which single-layer epidermis cannot. The image shows the stem cell-derived skin (green), complete with hair, transplanted and integrated into the skin of a mouse. If the technique can be recapitulated with human stem cells, it could ultimately lead to regenerative therapies for patients with severe burns or scars as well as possible treatments for baldness.
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