Burn Injury Prevention

Skin discarded during burn surgery has useable stem cells: study

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Skin discarded during burn surgery has useable stem cells: Sunnybrook study

November 5, 2018: The Future of Burn Care.

For a long time, burned skin tissue has been considered to be nothing more than medical waste.

Now, Sunnybrook researchers have found in a pre-clinical study that debrided burned skin, which is routinely removed from patients during surgery and discarded,  contains viable, undamaged cells that show characteristics of mesenchymal skin stem cells (MSCs).

These cells can be extracted, characterized, expanded, and incorporated into skin substitutes to promote wound healing.

Why is finding new ways to heal wounds so important?

Worldwide, 11 million people are burned and 265,000 people die from burn injuries every year.

The larger the burn, the less healthy skin remains for skin grafting . More alternative wound coverage materials are needed, because current materials are either ineffective, cause immunologic rejections, take too long to produce sufficient cell numbers or are too expensive.

The study

  1. Burned skin tissue debrided during surgery.
  2. Tissue added to sterile containers, carefully wrapped and transferred to research lab.
  3. Cells extracted and cultured. Later stored in liquid nitrogen.
  4. When cells began to grow out from the tissue, the tissue was removed, and adherent cells continued to grow.
  5. Applied the cellular coverage material onto excisional wounds. Found that BD-MSCs facilitates healing and decreases healing time

Burn-derived stem cells are a promising new source of skin stem cells for regenerative medicine and burn-wound management.

Without being limited by the common obstacles of stem cell therapies and its availability, this method could revolutionize the way we treat burn patients, and potentially patients with complex wounds.

Authors: Saeid Amini-Nik, M.D., Ph.D.; Reinhard Dolp; Gertraud Eylert,; Andrea K Datu; Alexandra Parousis; Camille Blakeley; Marc G Jeschke

Published in EBioMedicine Journal on November 5, 2018.

Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research # 123336; CFI Leader’s Opportunity Fund: Project # 25407; National Institutes of Health 2R01GM087285-05A1; EMHSeed: Fund: 500463; A generous donation from Toronto Hydro; Integra©Life Science Company provided the meshed bilayer Integra© for porcine experiments

More on this topic

Engineering a handheld 3-D skin printer to heal burn wounds


About the author

Sybil Millar

Sybil Millar

Sybil Millar is the Communications Advisor for the Ross Tilley Burn Centre, Critical Care and Infectious Diseases programs at Sunnybrook.

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