French scientists have found a way to create human skin rapidly from stem cells, a discovery that could save the lives of many burns victims who are vulnerable to infection, but must wait weeks for skin grafts.
The scientists made the breakthrough by creating a patch of human skin on a mouse's back using stem cells – cells which have the ability to develop into any human cell. Skin grafts have traditionally been created from cell cultures taken from the patient, a process that takes three weeks and might be too long for some burn victims. The new method using stem cells allows hospitals to order human skin as soon as they take in a burn victim.
“What our findings can provide is a way to cover the burns during those three weeks with skin epidermis ... produced in that factory and sent to the physician at the moment they receive a severely burned patient,” said Marc Peschanski, research director at the institute I-Stem.