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Hairy human skin grown from pluripotent stem cells

07 July 2020


Good news for anyone who feels like they’re thinning on top: researchers have finally found a way of growing hairy human skin in the lab directly from stem cells. The bad news is that this technique is still at a very small-scale experimental stage, and it’s more likely to be first turned towards developing more realistic skin grafts for wounds and burns or animal-free drug and cosmetic testing. Researchers have been growing flat sheets of simple skin cells in the lab for more than 40 years, but until now it has been impossible to recreate all the complexity of real skin, including fat, nerves and hair. In this study, adult skin cells were turned back into cells from both the upper and lower layers of skin, growing them together in the same dish. The result? Small balls of human skin just like this one, complete with sprouting hair follicles and embedded nerves (red).

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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