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Baby foreskins could cut animal testing

The Local · 20 Dec 2011, 07:17

Published: 20 Dec 2011 07:17 GMT+01:00

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The idea of a "skin factory" may sound sinister, but that is exactly what scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart have created. Their so-called Hautfabrik grows tiny swatches of skin - not for skin grafts, but for testing consumer products.

The renowned institute is presenting their ground-breaking invention as an affordable and sustainable alternative to animal testing, which many consider unnecessarily cruel.

The skin factory is a machine measuring seven metres long, three metres high and three metres deep, sealed and heated to 37 degrees Celsius – the same temperature as inside people.

The machine is fitted with 500 boards, each with 24 tissue cultures growing on it in little tube formations. In each tube, extremely thin skin samples grow from cells, which robotic hands have painstakingly extracted from foreskins donated to the project. Scientists use enzymes to detach the very top layer of cells from the skin, along with connective tissue and pigment cells.

The foreskin used for the process is only taken from boys up to the age of four. “The older skin is, the worse the cells function,” explained Andreas Traube, an engineer at the institute's department of production technology and automation.

“It is also important that the cells we use are coming from a uniform source," said Traube. "This avoids discrepancies in the production of the new skin."

The equipment developed by the Fraunhofer team can extract between three to 10 million cells from a single foreskin. In the incubator these cells then multiply hundreds of times.

The brand new skin cells are mixed with collagen and connective tissue, which then becomes ‘proper’ skin, measuring up to five millimetres in thickness. The whole process can take up to six weeks, but according to Traube, “We can’t use the machine to speed up the process; biology needs time to take its course.”

In a single month, the machine can produce around 5,000 skin samples. For now, these delicate creations remain untouched as the process is still being authorized by European authorities, who are examining the growths to see whether they are suitable to be used in testing.

But the process has been given the nod of approval by some key members of the Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA).

“I think the idea is a good one,” said Rolf Hömke, VFA spokesman. “I believe cells from artificially cultivated skin are indeed comparable with real skin.”

“I do think it might take a few years to get up and running though,” warned Hömke. “There are complicated international safety standards, these procedures can’t just be changed overnight.”

Story continues below…

At the moment only very small skin samples are being created. “It’s logical that we’d want to take the operation to a bigger scale,” said Traube.

He added that possible future applications for products from the Hautfabrik could be research into cancer, pigmentation diseases, allergic reactions and fungal infections.

The next step for the company is a little smaller though, as their sights are set on synthesizing a human cornea.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:52 December 20, 2011 by Wrench
This is just too funny to comment! And I have a million!
12:24 December 20, 2011 by iseedaftpeople

>And I have a million!

what, foreskins?? where'd you get all them foreskins? are you a rabbi? :-D
13:02 December 20, 2011 by Beachrider
Is that a German statue? Should we make any generalizations about German people from the statue?
14:31 December 20, 2011 by Baryonyx
@ #3

Italian actually.
14:51 December 20, 2011 by SchwabHallRocks
I am going to guess the most people who read The Locals (german, French, etc.) do it from work, judging by the times the comments are posted.

Photos of woman's cleavage (see the preceeding article) or David's penis prevent persons (at least where I work) from viewing The Local since the photos are generally not considered appropriate in an office setting.

Keep showing photos like this (like the idiots at The Local France who kept showing a photo of a man grabbing his private parts through his speedo swimsuit) and you may lose readers. I know I will be obliged to stop reading.

And, I have enough of a private life that I am not going to read The Local from home.
15:09 December 20, 2011 by Baryonyx
Thats the first I've heard that the statue of David is not safe for work.
17:30 December 20, 2011 by heyheyhey
Hey, idiots..........the article is about something other than your posts.....like silence!

However, who could expect a dumb-ass to get the content??????

Just sayin.......
22:41 December 20, 2011 by wxman
The statue seems to portray a physically healthy male. Well, in nearly all respects, unless he typically has a REAL blood surge when he is aroused.
07:55 December 21, 2011 by Englishted

Nothing like a bit of censorship, however some of us are not at work .

Strange but true when I am at work ,I work don't sit around and look at the internet.
08:03 December 21, 2011 by RonJLow
How is unethical this research even allowed? No infant ever donated his foreskin.

Ironically, using animal foreskin would be deemed inhumane in most jursidictions.
09:00 December 21, 2011 by tallabigale
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
14:38 December 21, 2011 by storymann
I suppose it is your choice to donate this tissue. I hope there are safe gards against extracting DNA samples, which would give the researchers the possibility to do other studies based on an individual's DNA. I assume the identity of the donor is not known by anyone, but we all know Murphy's Law.

Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA) is for this, Never would doubt that, it is a multi billion dollar industry based on profit and loss.
19:08 December 21, 2011 by mikel taylor
Why in this day and age are parents still mutilating there sons.

When I moved to the states from Germany as a ten year old I noticed in the gym that I was the only kid who still had his, thanks Mom, and thanks German culture for not removing part of my body and keeping sensitivity where it belongs.

and which newborn to four year old are signing the release form to use part of there penis for research??
23:51 December 21, 2011 by parografik
I suppose I need more of a private life, in order to prevent myself from reading anything.

Leaving work now, to take my son to the Library. Just preparing him for a lifetime dearth of private life. Tonight we tour the foreskin and breast implant aisle (publicly funded, at that).
09:55 December 22, 2011 by bugger
Where will they get the foreskins from? Unless the child's parents belong to one of these medieval cults, nobody gets circumcised in Europe.

Hopefully this practice will be outlawed completely soon as it is mutilation of a non-consenting child, and nothing else. Sweden already outlawed this primitive 'religious' custom.
11:53 December 22, 2011 by Joe_in_CA
The headline of this article tries to act like animal testing is somehow better than human testing. The last time Germans did funky stuff with human skin was when they tattooed Jews to mark them during the Holocaust. Yosef Mengele possibly experimented on the skins of Jews. Oh but *that* was "different," right? ^_-
12:44 December 22, 2011 by GolfAlphaYankee
well ... this (medieval) practice is being promoted by the international health organization as the most effective form of HIV prevention for heterosexuals in Africa !

Jews and Muslims and large percentage of US children are circumcised and I don't think MEN would have continued the practice if it somehow reduces their sensitiveness ....and it is definitely more hygienic.
13:34 December 22, 2011 by Joe_in_CA
I'm afraid the WHO must be smoking crack. Health organizations around the world don't buy it. (See Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, etc...) 80% of US males were circumcised from birth. Yet, for whatever reason, we still manage to have the highest rates of HIV transmission in the industrialized world.

In fact, AIDS rates in some US Cities rival hotspots in Africa. In some parts of the U.S., they're actually higher than those in sub-Saharan Africa. According to a 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, rates of HIV among adults in Washington, D.C. exceed 1 in 30; rates higher than those reported in Ethiopia, Nigeria or Rwanda.

The Washington D.C. district report on HIV and AIDS reported an increase of 22% from 2006 in 2009. According to Shannon L. Hader, HIV/AIDS Administration, Washington D.C., March 15, 2009 "[Washington D.C.'s] rates are higher than West Africa... they're on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya." Hader once led the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work in Zimbabwe.

According to Malaysian AIDS Council vice-president Datuk Zaman Khan, more than 70% of the 87,710 HIV/AIDS sufferers in the country are Muslims. In Malaysia, most, if not all Muslim men are circumcised, whereas circumcision is uncommon in the non-Muslim community. 60% of the Malaysian population is Muslim, which means that HIV is spreading in the community where most men are circumcised at an even faster rate, than in the community where most men are intact.

In the Philippines, the majority of the male population is circumcised, as it is seen as an important rite of passage. In the 2010 Global AIDS report released by UNAIDS in late November, the Philippines was one of seven nations in the world which reported over 25 percent in new HIV infections between 2001 and 2009, whereas other countries have either stabilized or shown significant declines in the rate of new infections. Among all countries in Asia, only the Philippines and Bangladesh are reporting increases in HIV cases, with others either stable or decreasing.

Can you tell us what the HIV scenario looks like in Israel? I'm afraid it doesn't look to pretty.

You know what's more hygienic? A shower.

There are more effective, less invasive ways to prevent disease. That's why the rest of the civilized world doesn't circumcise their children, and German "researchers" depend on countries that do.
14:00 December 22, 2011 by Joseph4GI
LOL! The majority of the above post was cut and pasted from my blog verbatim!

Yeah, this is pretty disgusting. Joe hit it on the nail. I'm supposed to feel good for the animals because they're using the foreskins of healthy, non-consenting children instead?

He touches on an interesting point.

During the Holocaust, the Germans experimented on the Jews they held captive. It sounds like some really deranged people even made lampshades made from human skin. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if they used this synthetic skin made from baby foreskins instead?

What if instead of baby foreskins, they were using baby labia? You know, since baby girls are being circumcised anyway? Can't let all that precious baby flesh go to waste! If the WHO, UNAIDS etc. play their cards right, they might be able to tap into baby girl clitorises and labia in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei etc. All they gotta do is pay the right "researchers" to write the literature for them.

This is absolutely despicable. Shame on the Germans.
15:52 December 22, 2011 by GolfAlphaYankee
Actually Joe, #18

WHO based its recommendation on scientific study where, I am presuming, all conditions (promiscuity, drogue use, sexual orientation... ) were controlled... on the other hand you are making broad conclusions based on uncorrelated data .... was there a counter study that showed no benefits under scientific conditions? and is there a scientific study showing that there is a lack of sensitivity for circumcised men?

in the US, HIV is largely a gay and Black community problem where promiscuity and non-circumcision (in the Black community) is the biggest.
17:53 December 22, 2011 by Joseph4GI
The WHO based its recommendation on rather flawed "studies" that were actually rather poorly controlled, if at all. The "research," if it can actually be called that, is full of flaws, caveats and confounding factors, and it is a scientific scandal waiting to explode. But let's just assume for the sake of argument, that it was 100% infallible.

Is there a reason why the magical 60% figure isn't manifest outside "scientific conditions?" Is there a reason why, in the examples given above, there seems to be no difference, if not a tendency in the opposite direction?

AIDS cases in Malaysia, the Philippines and Bangladesh can't all be uncircumcised black homosexuals can they?

According to UNAIDS, HIV transmission was found to be prevalent among the circumcised in 10 out of 18 countries. Why is this?

Why don't HIV/circumcision rates in the rest of the world, correlate with the "research" in Africa?

The fact remains that HIV transmission is lower in various countries in Europe and Asia, where the men aren't circumcised, than in America, and other countries, where circumcision is near universal. This demonstrates that, even if the "studies" were 100% accurate, circumcision is not absolutely necessary to achieve a reduction in HIV transmission. There are other ways to bring down HIV transmission that don't involve surgery, and "researchers" need to be focusing on THOSE, because let's face it, not everyone's going to go get circumcised.

The Sorrells study physically demonstrates how circumcision removes the most sensitive part of the penis. You might mention other "studies" that showed there was "little to no difference," and even some that show "an increase in sensation." None of them, however, have been as extensive as the Sorrells study, which maps sensitivity on various points on the penis, and takes into account the foreskin. Some "studies" are actually nothing but rigged surveys conducted by none other than the very "researchers" who are trying to "prove" that circumcision "reduces HIV transmission."

But let's not digress.

Whether circumcision prevents HIV or not, whether it decreases sensation or makes you superman in bed has no bearing on the ethical repugnancy of Germans are conducting "studies" on foreskins harvested from healthy, non-consenting children.
23:51 December 22, 2011 by Supermog
Why the moronic/callous comments about a very serious matter. Baby boys are born with healthy genitals to continue the species, not as a supply of spare parts for laboratories and vain women. Removal of healthy foreskins is against the law in most countries, but the law is not enforced. Circumcision has a major harmful effect on the boy, and the man he will become. It desensitises the penis, and so spoils intercourse for both him and his partner. It began as an anti-sex procedure whether for Jews, Muslims, or Americans. Baby boys are circumcised to make money for those who cut, and those who buy the tissue. Rise up and end the immoral unethical butchery. There must be ways of closing the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart.

As a sufferer from the loss of 20,000 nerve endings, intercourse gradually became less satisfying, and now I find it impossible to orgasm during intercourse, and difficult with masturbation. If only the family doctor had been one of those "anti-circers" But he wasn't, and his ignorance has ruined my sexlife. Please leave your baby boy as nature intended, he can get it done when he is adult if he wants to, though he won't if he has any knowledge of his penis.
14:47 December 23, 2011 by GolfAlphaYankee

about the non-consenting children.

I don't think foreskins were removed for the sole purpose of the study. those boys were going to be circumcised anyway and as alwys in these situations (were no HARD evidence shows a substantial harm is done) the decision belongs to the parents .

beets the hell of sending them to religious schools if you ask me !
18:39 December 23, 2011 by ebbelwoiguy

You don't remove body parts from anyone else, especially your own kids, without an immediate medical reason. What other parts are all right to remove on a whim? Would it be ok to remove outer ears unless it was proven to harm hearing?

Religious indoctrination is often undone as one matures. Physical amendments are permanent.
06:13 December 25, 2011 by PierceArrow
Hey Joe#18 and you other uber-liberal secular humanazis who use The Local comment section to bash Christian and Jews! Except for Joseph4GI (to his credit), you are so upset about a religious practice of Jews and many Christians, which has proven hygienic benefits; but you DON'T care about the barbaric Muslim practice of female circumcision, which has NO health benefits at all! BTW, STDs are spread by sodomy and promiscuity which are politically correct for liberals. Nein duh!
12:00 December 25, 2011 by ebbelwoiguy

What a load of caricatures. Please identify someone who opposes male cutting but not female cutting. No one has any right, even on your almighty religious grounds, to do body alterations without consent. That's something minors can't give. If even a tattoo is illegal how can it be otherwise?

You'll hear Africans tout all the benefits of female mutilation as to health and hygiene, that YOU have swallowed regarding male mutilation. And it's all mutilation in the literal, dictionary sense:

"Disfigurement; a major reduction or alteration of a limb or tissue, which may be intentional or accidental." (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Modern Medicine 2002)

Your own political correctness comes from a variety of the religious right. Just as orthodox as the one from the political left.

Have a Merry Christmas!
09:38 December 27, 2011 by OllO
Huh, must be a statistical anomaly. I don't feel deformed or desensitized.

And for the record, I look and feel great!
14:42 January 5, 2012 by Maus
For those of you saying "Who gets circumcised in this day and age?!" - Jews and Muslims still do, for one thing.

And my (non religious) cousins had to be done for medical reasons - phimosis is where the foreskin can't be contracted back over the penis and in extreme cases can even stop a child from peeing freely. It's painful and requires surgical correction, removing the foreskin.

So at least with these medical cases, there could be some donations.

Unfortunately, I doubt that many of our more religious circumcisions would also result in willingly donated "unclean" bits for science, whether it was medical or not.
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