Scientists in the US have discovered a new method, reminiscent of organic alchemy, which allows for the first time to transform open wounds into new healthy skin. The new technique – which is at an early stage of development and is still not mature for clinical use in humans – makes it possible to directly reprogram the wound cells into new cutaneous cells.
When the new method is perfected, it may make it unnecessary to transplant healthy skin through plastic surgery in cases where there are large wounds, e.g. severe burns or chronic conditions, such as ulcers due to diabetes. Nowadays, when sufficient healthy cutaneous graft is not available, new skin tissue must first be cultivated in the laboratory so that after transplantation, a process that is slow and costly.
Researchers at the Salk Institute of California, headed by Professor Juan Carlos Isizoua Belmondo, who published the publication in the journal Nature, successfully tested their method in experimental mice in which healthy skin developed in the wound site after 18 days. After a few months, the new skin did not differ from the healthy skin of the surrounding area.
Belmondo said he was optimistic that with the new technique, it would be possible to repair wounds of any size within a certain amount of time, and he did not rule out the possibility that it could also be used in simply aged skin to rejuvenate it.
However, before the method is clinically tested in humans, more animal studies will be performed for safety reasons. The new method will also be tested on other tissues and organs beyond the skin.