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END TO ANIMAL TESTING? Laboratory-grown skin may cease need for laboratory animals

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/25/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Researchers say new compound more cost-effective and less cruel

Animal experimentation has been condemned globally, and is often denounced as cruel and abominable. Researchers in the United Kingdom now say that skin grown in the laboratory can replace animals in drug and cosmetics testing.

Scientists have been able to grow epidermis from human skin cells removed by biopsy for several years. The more recent research has gone a step further.

Scientists have been able to grow epidermis from human skin cells removed by biopsy for several years. The more recent research has gone a step further.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/25/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Skin regeneration, animal testing, epidermis


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A layer of human skin from stem cells has been developed by a team led by King's College London. While stem cells have been turned into skin before, researchers say this is more like real skin as it has a permeable barrier.

The new technique is being heralded as a cost-effective alternative to testing drugs and cosmetics on animals.

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Epidermis, the outermost layer of human skin, provides a protective barrier that stops moisture escaping and microbes entering.

Scientists have been able to grow epidermis from human skin cells removed by biopsy for several years. The more recent research has gone a step further.

Using reprogrammed skin cells, the technique may offer a way to produce an unlimited supply of the main type of skin cell found in the epidermis. Researchers also grew the skin cells in a low humidity environment, which gave them a barrier similar to that of true skin.

"This is a new and suitable model that can be used for testing new drugs and cosmetics and can replace animal models," lead researcher Dr. Dusko Ilic, of King's College London, says. "It is cheap, it is easy to scale up and it is reproducible."

Ilic says the same method could be used to test new treatments for skin diseases.

Researcher Dr. Theodora Mauro said it would help the study of skin conditions such as ichthyosis - dry, flaky skin - or eczema.

"We 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," she said.

The Humane Society International welcomed the research.

"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," research and toxicology director Troy Seidle says.

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