Australia hopes for living skin for burns victims

April 4, 2010

Australian scientists are working towards creating a living, full-thickness replacement skin for burns victims and hope to begin animal trials later this year.

Research is underway to reproduce in the laboratory fully-functioning skin for transplant which could transform the lives of those left with serious burn injuries, a spokeswoman for the Sydney Burns Foundation said Sunday.

Burns victims are currently treated with -- pieces of their own skin taken from unharmed parts of their body -- or with small sheets of skin grown in a laboratory using their .

But laboratories can only grow epidermis -- the thin outer layer of skin -- and this can cannot stretch, perspire, grow hair, or have normal feeling or movement.

Researchers at the Sydney Burns Foundation, a collaboration between the University of Sydney and Concord Hospital, hope to counter this problem by developing a full-thickness, living skin to be transplanted to burns victims.

Sydney University Professor Peter Maitz said extensive testing was underway to establish base data for testing on animals in the near future.

"Burns injury is one of the most severe and disabling traumas a person can sustain," Maitz said in a statement.

"While modern burn and intensive care treatment has saved many lives, there is still a widening gap between achieving survival and real quality of life after a severe burn injury."

Speaking to the ABC last month, Maitz said when burns go through all the layers of skin, doctors are often only able to replace them with a "thin, thin layer.

"Whilst it will close the wound, it has no . It cannot sweat, it cannot regulate temperature, it does not metabolise -- produce anything. These are all functions of the normal ."

He said while burns victims could often be kept alive by hospitals, it was up to the to make their lives worth living.

"Because if that person then leaves the hospital and is a complete scar that can't move around, can't use their hands, can't eat properly, can't do their personal hygiene, the question needs to be asked, are we failing our patients?"

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists discover new causes of cellular decline in prematurely aging kids

March 19, 2018
In a recent paper published in Cell Reports, Saint Louis University researchers have uncovered new answers about why cells rapidly age in children with a rare and fatal disease. The data points to cellular replication stress ...

Don't blame adolescent social behavior on hormones

March 19, 2018
Reproductive hormones that develop during puberty are not responsible for changes in social behavior that occur during adolescence, according to the results of a newly published study by a University at Buffalo researcher.

Commonly used drugs affect gut bacteria

March 19, 2018
One in four drugs with human targets inhibit the growth of bacteria in the human gut. These drugs cause antibiotic-like side-effects and may promote antibiotic resistance, EMBL researchers report in Nature on March 19.

Stem cells treat macular degeneration

March 19, 2018
In July 2015, 86-year-old Douglas Waters developed severe age-related macular degeneration (AMD). He struggled to see things clearly, even when up close.

Measuring neutrophil motility could lead to accurate sepsis diagnosis

March 19, 2018
A microfluidic device developed by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators may help solve a significant and persistent challenge in medicine—diagnosing the life-threatening complication of sepsis. In their paper ...

Democratizing science: Researchers make neuroscience experiments easier to share, reproduce

March 16, 2018
Over the past few years, scientists have faced a problem: They often cannot reproduce the results of experiments done by themselves or their peers.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.