Researchers Explore Skin Regeneration To Help Burn Victims
April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Much like the liver, it is thought that human skin once had the ability to regenerate. Over time, however, this ability was lost.
Anthony Metcalfe professor of burns and wounds at the University of Brighton and director of research at the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation, led a team of researchers who are attempting to restart the process.
“The idea that humans once had the ability to regenerate skin comes from the notion that there are organs in the human body that can regenerate, like the liver,” said Metcalf. “The idea would be to try and create an environment in and around the wound, for the regenerative mechanisms to be encouraged to occur, hopefully reducing scarring in the process.”
According to a Telegraph report, Metcalf will work with colleagues in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, along with other University of Brighton departments, to develop new techniques and approaches in regenerative medicine to improve treatments.
“We live in exciting times for interdisciplinary science, especially in the fields of burns, plastic and reconstructive surgery, wound healing, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering,” he said.
“The unique research endeavors that can be made under this exciting partnership will revolutionize potential therapies for wound healing, for reduction of scarring and restoration of normal tissue architecture for patients suffering from burns and other tissue injuries.”
The research team intends to build on the work of pioneering plastic surgeon and burn specialist Sir Archibald McIndoe, who died one year before the opening of the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation in 1961. The Foundation is based at the Queen Victoria Hospital where McIndoe treated burn victims from the Second World War. The famous Guinea Pig Club, made up of patients who underwent experimental plastic surgery, was also formed at the hospital.
“We intend to take hold of his legacy and, using modern regenerative medicine techniques, develop new approaches to scar reduction in burns and wound healing and develop techniques to regenerate skin,” said Metcalfe. “As an innovator himself, Sir Archibald developed the groundwork of modern plastic surgery techniques and was probably one of the first clinicians to see the power of interdisciplinary approaches.”
“Extensive burns injuries and the subsequent scarring that occurs creates not only physical problems for the patients, often requiring continued surgery, but there is a psychological impact that Sir Archibald recognized. We want to develop the holistic approach that he pioneered, using patient participatory research programs, to gain a much better understanding of the impact of such injuries to patients’ lifestyles.”