For the first time, scientists from Japan's RIKEN Center for Development Biology, along with collaborators from Tokyo University of Science and other Japanese institutions have grown skin in a lab and then transplanted it onto a mouse, where it began to produce sweat, secrete protective oils and grow hair. In a study published in Science Advances, these scientists detail how they were able to craft fully functional skin from stem cells made from the gums of mice The Washington Post reported.
Though they're a good 5+ years away from replicating the same technique in humans, the Post reports, the scientists involved say this technique has the potential to revolutionize skin grafts, "which currently rely on skin taken from other parts of the body or still-flawed artificial skin. The former poses medical challenges, and the latter lacks the ability to grow hair or produce oils like normal skin - which, at best, makes the graft look different from the rest of the body, and at worst can be a health hazard."
"We are coming ever closer to the dream of being able to recreate actual organs in the lab for transplantation," lead study author Takashi Tsuji said in a statement from Riken.
In addition to revolutionizing skin repair, this technique may also help with certain types of hair loss, according to Medical Daily, including alopecia and pattern baldness.