In the not-too-distant future, burn victims may be able to recover in the half the time than is possible today. If so, it will be thanks to a biodegradable dressing that applies cultured skin cells directly to the wound site.
The biomaterial is being developed in a collaboration between Mexico's Autonomous University of the State of Morelos (UAEM) and the Scientific Research Centre of Yucatan.
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Led by UAEM's Prof. Jesús Santa-Olalla Tapia, the researchers have isolated skin cells (keratinocytes), grown colonies of them in the lab, and then applied them to a gauze-like dressing. When applied to burns, the material delivers the cells right to the wound, where they release proteins that trigger skin growth.
Additionally, because the material simply biodegrades in place on the wound, the dressing never needs to be changed – doing so can sometimes set back the healing process, even though it's necessary with regular dressings.
As a result, when tested on small burns on rabbits and mice, the material reportedly reduced healing time by 50 percent. Plans now call for testing on larger animals, followed by human trials.
The technology is currently being developed in a partnership with the Hospital for Children and Teenagers in the State of Morelos. Its commercialization is being handled by Rubio Pharma and Associates, which plans to market it under the name of Epiderm-pro.
Source: Investigacion y Desarrollo (Spanish)