Could Human Skin Dressing Treat Cancerous Cells?

First Posted: Oct 02, 2013 10:16 PM EDT

Researchers from Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine and CHU de Québec believe that it could be possible for wound dressings made from human skin to grow during in vitro.

In fact, a study shows that this approach that was successfully used to treat venous lower-extremity ulcers in patients have been chronically suffer from such wounds.

Approximately one percent of the population suffers from lower-extremity ulcers. The wounds regularly became inflamed or infected that were very slow to heal, if they did at all. They were also frequently associated with aging, diabetes and circulatory system disorders including such problems as varicose veins.

"Obese individuals and those who work constantly standing up are especially vulnerable. These ulcers can persist for years. It can be a hellish clinical situation when standard treatments don't work," said Dr. François A. Auger, director of both the study and LOEX, the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine laboratory where it was conducted, via a press release.

Background information from the study notes that the standard treatment for ulcers typically involves methodically cleaning wounds and applying compression bandages. Though many drugs that have been available for the problem have been around for 20 years, they can be expensive and are somewhat limited. For instance, a graft using the patient's own skin can be effective but is problematic as it requires a significant amount of skin to removed from elsewhere on the body.

The very problem inspired LOEX researchers in order to use their expertise with in vitro skin culture to create biomaterial-free biological wound dressing. The process involves the following steps, courtesy of the release: "removing 1 cm2 of skin from the patient, isolating the appropriate cells, growing them in vitro, and creating a skin substitute with both dermis and epidermis. After eight weeks of growth the self-assembled sheets of skin substitute can be applied over the ulcers, much like bandages, and replaced weekly as long as necessary. '"This totally biological bandage is much more than a physical barrier," stresses Dr. Auger. "The cells secrete molecules that speed up healing by helping to set natural healing processes in motion. It would be hard to imagine a model closer to the human body's natural physiology."'

The researchers carried out tests on five patients that took an average of seven weeks to cure 14 ulcers that had been affecting patients for at least six months."This is a last recourse once all other treatment options have been exhausted," said François A. Auger, via the release.

Dr. Auger sees another promising application for these biological bandages: "We have shown that this is effective for patients with leg ulcers. Now, we intend to carry out a clinical study to demonstrate that the same treatment works for patients with serious burns, as soon as we get the necessary approvals."

More information regarding the study can be found via the Advances in Skin and Wound Care.

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