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IPFS News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Scientists create first-ever lab-grown reptile skin

•, David Szondy

Scientists led by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) have successfully reconstructed the skin of a green sea turtle as part of a study to learn more about a virus infection that threatens the endangered reptile species.

The green turtle is a large sea turtle that is found throughout tropical and subtropical seas. It migrates for thousands of miles as it moves between its feeding and breeding grounds, and was once so common that ship's crews would gather them for food. They were even commercially farmed for products like tinned soup and leather. Today, the green turtle is endangered or threatened throughout its range, and hunting them or their eggs is illegal.

Unfortunately, man isn't the only threat that the green turtle faces. They're also susceptible to a virus associated with fibropapillomatosis (FP) called chelonid herpesvirus 5 (ChHV5). In turtles, especially around Hawaii, Florida, and Brazil, FP produces tumors on the skin, eyes, and mouth as well as internally. This is not only disfiguring, but also compromises the animal's immune system, making it susceptible to secondary infections, emaciation, and even death.