Break­through study ‘grows’ skin from tis­sue to heal

Re­searchers have trans­formed tis­sue cells into skin cells to help heal se­ri­ous wounds, a tech­nique that could rev­o­lu­tionise care for vic­tims of burns and other se­vere in­juries.

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Alert -

IN A WORLD first, re­searchers have trans­formed tis­sue cells into skin cells to help heal se­ri­ous wounds, a tech­nique that could rev­o­lu­tionise care for vic­tims of burns and other se­vere in­juries.

The re­search is the cul­mi­na­tion of a decade of work and holds promise for a va­ri­ety of pa­tients, in­clud­ing those with se­ri­ous burns or el­derly pa­tients with bed­sores and other re­cur­ring le­sions.

The study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Na­ture, in­volves a tech­nol­ogy called “cell re­pro­gram­ming” in which genes are in­serted into cells to change them from one form to another.

“This is the first de­scrip­tion of re­pro­gram­ming of tis­sue cells to skin cells,” lead au­thor Masakazu Ku­rita told AFP.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited about the re­sults.”

Ku­rita, a plas­tic sur­geon and pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Tokyo, be­gan work­ing on the tech­nique 10 years ago.

It has been a la­bo­ri­ous and painstak­ing process since then.

The first stage in­volved iden­ti­fy­ing genes present in skin cells but not in tis­sue cells, which could be iso­lated and then in­serted into tis­sue cells to trans­form them. “We picked around 80 can­di­date genes fea­tured in skin cells, then we tried com­bi­na­tions,” Ku­rita said.

His break­through came in

2014, when he suc­cess­fully re­pro­grammed tis­sue cells into skin cells in a cul­ture dish us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of 28 genes. In 2015, he moved to the Salk In­sti­tute for Bi­o­log­i­cal Stud­ies in Cal­i­for­nia to col­lab­o­rate with a team of spe­cial­ists from around the world.

In all, he and his col­leagues con­ducted around 2,000 tri­als with dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of genes, look­ing for the most ef­fi­cient way to trans­form cells. Even­tu­ally, they hit upon a four-gene com­bi­na­tion and be­gan test­ing it in wounds on mice. They sealed the wounds off from the sur­round­ing skin to repli­cate the dif­fi­cult con­di­tions at the cen­tre of a large burn or sim­i­lar in­jury, with no ad­ja­cent skin to pro­mote heal­ing. Us­ing the tech­nol­ogy, along with ex­ist­ing drug treat­ments, they were able to heal a le­sion one cen­time­tre in di­am­e­ter in around two weeks.

“Our data sug­gests the fea­si­bil­ity of a com­pletely new ther­apy which could be used for the clo­sure of wounds from var­i­ous causes,” Ku­rita said.

The most ob­vi­ous ap­pli­ca­tion would be se­vere burns cov­er­ing large parts of the body, which are usu­ally treated with skin grafts, he added. “When the ar­eas in­volved in burns are ex­tremely broad and no skin is avail­able for the pa­tients, no one could of­fer the pa­tient a way to sur­vive... our tech­nique could of­fer a way.”

— iStock photo

The re­search holds promise for a va­ri­ety of pa­tients, in­clud­ing those with se­ri­ous burns or el­derly pa­tients with bed­sores and other re­cur­ring le­sions. It in­volves a tech­nol­ogy called “cell re­pro­gram­ming” in which genes are in­serted into cells to change it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.