Researchers say that human skin from cadavers can help treat wounds. The discovery marks a huge advance for sufferers of chronic wound and skin conditions, Mashable reports. Scientists believe that using cadaver skin that has had the cells removed could be the more efficient than the variety of skin substitutes that have been developed over the years.
Ardeshir Bayat, a bioengineer at the University of Manchester, explained how using decellularized cadaver skin makes the substitute more effective, safe, and decreases the likelihood of the body rejecting the skin graft:
Imagine a house with all the furniture and people taken out — you’re left with an empty shell that is easier to populate than just building a house from scratch. In the same way, decellularized dermis provides a scaffold that the body can try to populate with its own cells. The good thing about decellularized dermis is that it has a structure and composition that the human body is already used to — the body responds more favorably to what it is used to than what it isn’t.
The process requires scientists to first decontaminate the skin before using a combination of enzymes and chemicals to remove the skin cells—essentially leaving the skin’s matrix shell. Then living cells from the patient’s body are implanted and grown within the structure to trigger new blood vessels.
Foreign cells can trigger an immune response that causes the body to reject a transplanted organ. By removing the cells from the skin structure, scientists hope to make the treatment more successful and accessible for a larger number of patients.
Bayat defines chronic skin wounds as those that persist longer than six weeks despite treatments. During his research, Bayat and his team discovered that not only could the cadaver skin treat chronic wounds, but it could also be effective for burn patients and acute injuries.
The complete report of the team’s findings was published in the journal PLOS ONE.