Lab-Grown Human Skin Could Replace Skin Grafts
Skin grafts could soon become a thing of the past thanks to a group of German researchers who have developed a new technique that enables them to grow human skin in the laboratory. Dr Anke Hartmann and colleagues at Wuerzburg University Hospital have succeeded in growing both the epidermal and dermal skin layers from small samples (approximately 1 cm by 2 cm) of a patient's skin. Hartmann says that the lab-grown skin has numerous advantages over skin grafts, and over techniques that are used to treat deep wounds, such as using collagen obtained from cows. Firstly, using lab-grown skin means that the patient won't be left with a scar, which is the case when large areas of skin are removed for grafts. Secondly, the risk of infection at the donor site is also removed. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the lab-grown skin is younger than donated skin and thus is more flexible and possibly quicker to heal. Human tests of the skin are planned for this Fall, if successful the technique could quickly be brought into clinical practice as no new materials are needed and it uses already-established procedures.
SOURCE/REFERENCE: Reported by www.reutershealth.com on the 17th June 2003.