Skin cells from cadavers treat wounds
A research team at the University of Manchester in England has found a way to treat acute wounds using skin cells from human cadavers rather than building new skin cells in a lab. Scientists tested 50 volunteers by removing four small, 0.2-inch, disks of skin. In each patient, one wound was left alone, one was patched with the removed skin, one was treated with cadaver skin, and the last was treated with artificial skin.
Scientists first decontaminated cadaver skin using antibiotics, enzymes and chemicals. This rids the skin of cells that might interfere with a person’s immune system or cause it to be rejected by the body. Once all of the cells are removed, much like a gutted house, the cadaver skin works as scaffolding the patient can fill with their own skin cells. Scientists found the “decellularized” skin worked best at stimulating blood vessels to heal wounds in patients.
Even when dressed, chronic wounds are unable to heal for six to eight weeks, sometimes years. They are commonly associated with health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Scientists in the past have tried to “re-engineer” skin substitutes, but they say nothing works as well as the real thing. The cadaver skin was able to treat one woman suffering from a 20-year skin ulcer in just four weeks.
The next step is testing the effects of decellularized skin on a larger scale.