First ever artificial skin grown in lab

Artificial skin that could be used to replace animals in testing drugs and cosmetics has been grown in a lab for the first time.

A team of UK and US scientists produced one centimetre-wide segments of epidermis - the skin's outermost layer - from stem cells with the same properties as real skin.

The epidermis forms a protective barrier between the body and the outside world, preventing water from escaping while keeping out germs and toxins.

Up to now, tissue engineers have been unable to grow an outer skin layer with the functional barrier needed for drug testing.

In future, scientists believe lab-grown skin could be used for testing medicinal lotions and creams or cosmetics without causing suffering to animals. It could also provide a way to investigate conditions like eczema.