The development of artificial human skin offers the path for new treatments for skin cancer

By Juliana Casagrande Tavoloni Braga, Mariana Petaccia Macedo, Clovis Pinto, João Duprat, MariaDirlei Begnami, Giovanni Pellacani, Gisele Gargantini Rezze – (2013). “Learning Reflectance Confocal Microscopy of Melanocytic Skin Lesions through Histopathologic Transversal Sections”. PLoS ONE 8 (12): e81205. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0081205. ISSN 1932-6203.-“This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.”, CC BY 4.0,

A study team from the University of Copenhagen was able to stop invasive development in a skin cancer model by utilizing artificial human skin.

The study, which examines what exactly occurs when a cell transforms into a cancer cell, has been published in Science Signaling.

The researchers have been investigating the so-called TGF beta pathway, one of the cell’s signaling mechanisms. This pathway, which regulates things like cell proliferation and cell division, is essential for the communication between the cell and its environment. The cell may develop into a cancer cell and invade the surrounding tissue if these systems are compromised according to Professor and Team Lead Hans Wandall from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

Your skin cells won’t just randomly begin to infiltrate the hypo-dermis and cause havoc under normal conditions. They will instead create a fresh layer of skin. However, when cancerous cells appear, the skin’s layers’ boundaries are no longer respected, and the cells begin to invade one another. This type of growth is invasive.

In their research on the TGF beta pathway, Hans Wandall and his colleagues developed strategies for preventing invasive development, which helped to reduce the invasive growth of skin cancer.

Drugs that can disrupt these signaling pathways are currently available, and they might be tested. In this study, they have employed several of them said Sally Dabelsteen, an associate professor and co-author of the study from the School of Dentistry.

Dr. Zilu Ye and Professor Jesper V. Olsen from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences’ Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research collaborated with Hans Wandall and Sally Dabelsteen on this project.

Some of these medications have previously undergone testing on humans, while others are now undergoing testing in relation to several other cancers. Additionally, they might be examined especially for skin cancer.

Human skin cells that have been genetically altered are employed as the artificial skin in this latest study. On collagen-rich subcutaneous tissue, skin cells are generated. The cells proliferate in layers as a result, exactly like the skin of a human body.

The skin model, also known as artificial skin, enables researchers to introduce artificial genetic modifications very fast, which gives insight into the processes that promote skin growth and regeneration. This is in contrast to mouse models.

In this method, not just skin cancer but also other skin conditions may be reproduced and their progression can be tracked.

The researchers have overcome the potentially problematic question of whether the outcomes of experiments on mouse models can be translated to human tissue by employing fake human skin. Most of these research were conducted in the past using mice as models. Instead, because the artificial skin brings us closer to the reality of humans, the researchers can now draw the conclusion that these compounds likely are not dangerous and might be used in practice.

The researchers’ synthetic skin is similar to the skin used to test cosmetics in the European Union, which outlawed animal testing in 2004. Hans Wandall notes that using artificial skin does not enable scientists to examine a drug’s impact on a complete organism. Since the middle of the 1980s, cosmetics businesses have employed skin models similar to the one presented here.

The researchers may examine the effect focusing on the specific organ—the skin—and then they earn experiences with regard to how chemicals work, while they strive to discover whether it can harm the structure of the skin and the healthy skin cells.


Zilu Ye et al. (2022). Characterization of TGF-β signaling in a human organotypic skin model reveals that loss of TGF-βRII induces invasive tissue growth, Science Signaling (2022) DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.abo2206

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