Usually when someone gets severely burned, there is no way to replace the skin lost. Burned skin cannot grow properly, although many scientists would love to be able to grow skin in a lab, and replace it on a human. However, skin grown this way to this day lacks the layers and glands that make normal human skin function properly.
Recently, researchers in Japan have grown fully functioning skin from stem cells of mice. Just like normal skin, the artificial skin has 3 layers, which are the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat. The fake skin can even grow hair, and secret oils to keep it healthy. This kind of technology could eventually help burn victims or people with skin diseases.
To make the skin work, scientists took cells from mouse gums and transformed them to cells that can change into any type of cell. Instead of using these cells to grow skin cells, however, they were made into cells that grow into embryoid bodies, 3D clumps of cells similar to those in an embryo. Once implanted, these clumps differentiated into bioengineered skin. These were transplanted onto mice with no hair, where it fused with surrounding tissue, and did not get rejected by the immune system.
However, this kind of technology will still take a few years before it can be used to help humans; researchers want to do more research on mouse cells before trying to transplant this type of skin on humans. However, many people are hopeful, including Takashi Tsuji, from Japan’s RIKEN Center for Developmental BIology. He says “we are coming ever closer to the dream of being able to recreate actual organs in the lab for transplantation, and also believe that tissues grown through this method could be used as an alternative to animal testing of chemicals.” Artificial skin may take a while to become reality, but it can help a lot of people.