December 22, 2011
Scientists Create Human Skin From Baby Foreskins
Scientists at a secret German laboratory have grown human skin from baby foreskins.
The process takes cells from foreskins donated to the project, known as the Skin Factory at the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart, Germany, and grows swatches of skin for use in testing cosmetics and other consumer products.
Project spokesman Andreas Traube said that its creators claim that one day their process could replace all animal testing.
Scientists extract a single layer of cells from each foreskin and then grow on layers of collagen and connective tissue in the Skin Factory, which is a sealed growing environment.
They keep the skin heated to roughly 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature of the human body. Robotic hands then meticulously extract cells from foreskins donated to the project.
Traube said the project uses foreskins taken from boys up to just four years old. "The older the skin is, the worse it performs," he in a statement.
Scientists take the extracted cells from the foreskin and incubate them inside tubes, where they multiply hundreds of times.
The process can produce 10 million cells from a single foreskin and make skin up to 0.19 inches thick in six weeks.
European authorities are examining the Skin Factory to determine whether or not it can be used commercially.
"It's logical that we'd want to take the operation to a bigger scale," Traube said in a statement. "In the future there are all sort of possible applications for the Skin Factory like cancer research, pigmentation diseases, and allergic reactions."
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