Virtual model reveals new insights into skin ageing

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

Scientists in the UK have made a breakthrough discovery about the processes involved in the regeneration of skin tissue and the causes of epidermal ageing.

The University of Sheffield allied with Procter and Gamble to carry out the study, which used a virtual skin model to test the three most popular theories of how skin cells function over a three-year period.

Results appeared to suggest that a population of dormant stem cells reside in the lowest layer of the skin but do not constantly divide to make new cells unless the skin is damaged, with this stock of "sleeping" cells gradually depleting with age.

It is also thought that mutations of these stem cells are responsible for causing skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma.

Dr Xinshan Li of the University of Sheffield faculty of engineering said: "If it's possible to study this phenomenon for long periods of time, it may be possible to find ways to prevent the activation of mutated cells and therefore reduce the risk of developing the disease."

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancer types in the world, with around 100,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed every year in the UK.

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