New skin induced to grow at wound site by reprogramming resident cells
If a person needs replacement skin – because of, say, a burn or a large ulcer – doctors normally graft skin from healthy parts of the body. It’s also possible, if a wound is particularly large, to grow a patient's skin cells into large sheets in a laboratory and use those to cover the wound. Neither of these approaches is ideal, however, as they can often require multiple surgeries. What if grafts, tissue culture and surgeries could be eliminated altogether? A recent breakthrough may one-day make that possible. This mouse skin (green) grew directly from the underlying mesenchymal cells (red) – ordinarily only capable of producing muscle, bone, cartilage and connective tissues – after a section of skin was removed from the animal and a cocktail of skin-specifying factors was applied. If this reprogramming approach is translatable to humans, it could be a faster and less painful way to regenerate skin.
Written by Ruth Williams
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