New research describes the types of modern Tissue-Engineered Skin substitutes
An interesting study recently came to light regarding the use of tissue engineered products in serious skin coverage problems. The study was published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery which is the official journal of ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons). The team of Dr. Dennis P. Orgill (working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston) and his colleagues worked hard to gather and examine six types of tissue engineered skin substitutes that are currently available. Dr. Orgill says “Skin substitutes have been a great advance for plastic surgery and provide several advances and options to heal wounds”.
Skin coverage is necessary for several serious traumas like skin ulcers or major burns and this is among the toughest challenges for plastic and cosmetic surgery. In a few cases skin grafts do the job but in many others they are not available at all. In such cases it seems that Tissue Engineered skin substitutes do the job. The rapidly expanding knowledge regarding the structure of the skin is that allowed many such substitutes to evolve. Dr. Orgill writes: “Better understanding of the skin architecture and its bioactive components has enabled the development of a wide range of skin substitutes”.
The research team presented the categories of modern tissue-engineered skin substitutes that may give satisfactory results in terms of skin coverage:
- Allografts: These substitutes are made of processed skin (provided my human donors).
- Allogeneic skin equivalents: These are in vitro grown skin substitutes that work fine in supporting regeneration of the patient’s own tissues. They are used to heal chronic wounds.
- Dermal templates: These substitutes are made of collagen (they are semi-synthetic)
- Epidermal replacement: These are using patient’s skin cells. A culture of these cells gives these “epidermal equivalent” substitutes”Epidermal equivalent”. They are expensive and it takes much time for them to be cultured.
- Xenografts: Such substitutes contain processed skin from other species. Pig skin are quite common in xenografts.
Dr. Orgill summarizes: “Skin substitutes have been a great advance for plastic surgery and provide several advances and options to heal wounds”, while he highlights the necessity for further research in order for better use of all these options. The team concludes: “Future developments including advances in scaffolds, stem cells, and tissue processing are likely to produce even more clinical options for our patients.”