In another case of the wonders of stem cell regeneration, Japanese researchers have created skin tissue complete with glands and hair follicles.
The skin, being the largest body organ based on surface area performs many functions including temperature regulation, excretion, sensation, protection, among others. This makes it a somewhat complex organ, and even more complex to reproduce.
The research leader, Dr. Takashi Tsuji, who is the leader of an organ regeneration lab at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, said;
“Up until now, artificial skin development has been hampered by the fact that the skin lacked the important organs, such as hair follicles and exocrine glands, which allow the skin to play its important role in regulation.”
The research which was documented in the journal Science Advances describes in detail how the experiment was carried out. The team got stem cells from a mouse’ gum cell, using the pluripotent cells to create a skin tissue.
The skin tissue created had the hair follicle and sebaceous glands which produces oily substances that help protect the skin, leaving it soft and smooth.
The hair follicle, together with exocrine glands (the sebaceous gland in this case), form a part of the integumentary system. This system which connects with nerves, and other organs in a fully functional skin proved effective in the lab-created skin tissues when implanted into living mice. They developed like normal skins would.
Dr Tsuji had this to say concerning the research;
“We are coming ever closer to the dream of being able to recreate actual organs in the lab for transplantation, and also believe that tissue grown through this method could be used as an alternative to animal testing of chemicals.”