27 Dec '11, 5am
Automatic skin-making machine could make animal testing in laboratories obsolete
Scientists at Germany's Fraunhofer Society research organisation have developed a machine that makes artificial skin fully automatically. If it receives approval from the relevant control bodies in Europe it could make animal testing in laboratories obsolete. The machine is seven metres long, three metres wide and three metres high. Inside, small robot arms take care of the work of producing skin samples. The machine can also make connective tissue and pigment cells. At the moment foreskins from male infants provide the cells that initiate the process. 'The older the samples are, the less efficient cell production is,' says Andreas Traube, an engineer at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation in Stuttgart.