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New skin hope for burns victims

23rd November 2009

The human embryonic stem cell (hESC), a type of cell which can change into any other cell, may be useful in regrowing skin in burn victims, according to new French research.


The researchers said they were able to grow human skin from the cells after grafting them onto mice, and that the treatment would work for all patients with severe burns in a way that ordinarily grafted tissue did not.

The only disadvantage of the technique is that it requires patients to wait three weeks before the new skin can be grafted onto theirs.

Cadaver skin and artificial nets can be used during the three week waiting period, though they are poor substitutes for actual skin.

Cadaver skin is ofter rejected by patients' immune systems, and artificial nets can lead to infection.

For the purposes of the study, the French researchers attempted to duplicate the life cycle of embryonic skin cells.

First, they placed the cells in an artificial net. Then, they grafted the skin and net onto five mice bred to have deficient immune systems. This was so that the bodies of the mice would not reject the new skin.

In order to transform the hESCs into keratinocytes, which compose some 95% of human skin, the researchers used methods from cell biology and pharmacology.

The time required to turn the hESCs into keratinocytes was about 40 days, which is the same amount of time it takes for a human embryo to form an epidermal layer.

The end result were keratinocytes that had the qualities of adult skin cells and after roughly three months had elapsed, the skin had a structure like that of human skin.

Study leader Christine Baldeschi of the Institute for Stem Cell Therapy and Exploration of Monogenic Diseases in Evry, France said that the new technique could provide an unlimited resource for temporary skin replacement in patients with severe burns.

She said that her team used hESCs to make keratinocyte stem cells because they are the only cells capable of recreating all the layers of the human epidermis.

Plans for a trial in humans are under way.

Holger Schluter of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia said that the new research took skin stem cells to the next level.


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Article Information

Title: New skin hope for burns victims
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 13335
Date Added: 23rd Nov 2009


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