A research team at the University of Copenhagen has succeeded in halting aggressive growth in a skin cancer model using synthetic human skin.
A study examining exactly what happens when a cell turns into a cancer cell has been published in Science Signaling.
“We are studying one of the cell’s signaling pathways, the so-called TGF beta pathway. This pathway plays an important role in the cell’s communication with its surrounding environment, and as such, controls cell growth and cell division. If these mechanisms are damaged, the cell becomes cancerous. can transform into cells and invade the surrounding tissue,” explains Hans Wandl, professor and team leader at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen.
Under normal circumstances, your skin cells don’t just start attacking and destroying the hypodermis. Instead, they will produce a new layer of skin. But when cancer cells appear, the cells no longer respect the boundaries between the layers of the skin, and they start attacking each other. This is called invasive growth.
Hans Wandl and his colleagues have been studying the TGF beta pathway and have applied methods to suppress invasive growth and prevent invasive growth in skin cancer.
“We already have a variety of drugs that can block these signaling pathways and that can be used in trials. We used some of them in this study,” says Sally Debelstein, associate professor at the School of Dentistry and study co-author.
Hans Wandl and Sally Debelstein from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Dr. Zhilu Ye and Professor Jesper V. Worked closely with Olsen.
“Some of these drugs have already been tested in humans, and some are in the process of being tested for other types of cancer. They can also be tested specifically in skin cancer,” she says.
Artificial skin is the closest we have to real human skin
The artificial skin used by the researchers in the new study consists of artificial, genetically engineered human skin cells. Skin cells are produced in skin tissue made of collagen. It causes the cells to grow in layers like real human skin.
Unlike mouse models, the skin model, which is another term for artificial skin, allows researchers to introduce artificial genetic changes relatively quickly, providing insight into the systems that support skin development and renewal.
In this way they are also able to develop and reproduce not only skin cancer, but other skin disorders.
“Using artificial human skin, we overcome the potentially problematic barrier that the results of tests on mice models can be transferred to human tissues. Previously, we used mice models in many studies of this type. Instead, we can now conclude that these substances . Probably not harmful and could work in practice, because artificial skin means we are closer to human reality,” says Hans Wandl.
The artificial skin used by the researchers is similar to skin used to test cosmetics in the EU, which banned animal testing in 2004. However, artificial skin does not allow researchers to test the effects of drugs on whole organisms, Hans Wandl points out. . Skin models like the one used here have been used by cosmetics companies since the mid-1980s.
“We can study the effect focused on an individual organ – the skin – and then we cut experiments in terms of how the molecules work, while we try to determine whether they damage the skin structure and healthy skin cells,” he said. says
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