At Best Doctors, we believe numerous research projects on tissue creation which have begun to yield relevant results in recent months are worth mentioning. However, as researchers have already pointed out, we should be aware that some of these projects are still in their early stages and that difficulties may arise when applying such scientific advances to the treatment of human patients.
Such is the case of a recent study published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine and conducted by a team at the University of Granada, led by Antonio Campos, who have managed to grow artificial skin from specific cells, known as Wharton’s jelly cells, found in our umbilical cord.
The main advantage of the future application of this artificial skin is its time-saving quality when it comes to major-burn victims. It currently takes weeks for skin to be grown from a patient’s healthy skin tissue in order to treat the entire affected body surface.
Another significant advantage derived from this study is that in a few years’ time it might be possible to store artificial skin in tissue banks for the purpose of treating patients immediately after an accident, thus greatly improving the chances of treatment being successful.
Generating epithelial cells as a first step to creating skin
One of the most interesting aspects of this project is how the researchers have been able to produce epithelial cells from Wharton jelly cells. If we consider that umbilical cord cells are commonly used to generate bone cells or muscle tissue, this study can be regarded as truly innovative.
To create the artificial skin, the researchers grew both essential tissues, known as the epidermis and dermis. Through the above-mentioned process, the epidermis was produced from the cultured epithelial cells derived from the umbilical cord cells. The dermis, for its part, was specifically grown from a biomaterial made of fibrin and agarose designed and developed by the team.
Possible rejection and the need for caution
Despite the promise held out by the study, the possible rejection experienced by artificial skin recipients has yet to be tested, and caution is therefore advisable. Current treatments do not deal with the problem of rejection, since the implanted skin is created from a patient’s own tissue, thus avoiding incompatibilities.
Best Doctors joins scientists in the call for caution as to the dissemination of such research projects and their future results. Nevertheless, we do consider these studies to be a step forward on the road to a future in which diagnostic and treatment tools will be much more reliable and advanced.