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Effective Tissue Repair
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Join Skin Deep for a special evening of conversation, live performance and collective listening with the epic poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams. Cell therapy is one focus for the team; artificial skin is another. As the head of the Institute of Medical Biology at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research A-Star in Singapore, the year-old biochemist conducts internationally renowned research in the field of wound healing and tissue growth and repair.
Upton is calling upon researchers to intensify their search for the best possible ways of treating chronic wounds. One goal of the scientists is to use cells grown in culture as a basis for creating artificial tissue that would mimic its natural counterpart—the skin—extremely closely.
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Their plan involves different types of human cells interacting just as they do in the body. The most realistic possible model of the skin would need to contain the two layers of the epidermis, or outer layer of skin, and the dermis, or corium, below that—and ideally even 3D-printed blood vessels that would supply the laboratory tissue with adequate oxygen and nutrients.
But first things first: cells—or even skin tissue—grown in culture in the lab could be used for novel cell therapies for healing wounds. The cells would then be reintroduced to accelerate the healing of the damaged organ—the skin in this case.
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The former Medical Devices Project House is now an established competence center unlike any other in the world. Its focus is on developing new biocompatible materials and the technologies for processing those materials to make implants for orthopedic and cardiovascular applications. A range of products has already been successfully positioned on the market, and the team at the Tissue Engineering Project House can now build on that work through its focus on growing entire tissues artificially.
The research work is complemented by technologies and products from Evonik that have been established for years.
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The next application, i. Evonik hopes to help optimize skin models for more reliable results when it comes to testing new medications, cosmetic agents or cleansers. Yet another development—one that could be used in applications such as transplants—might conceivably come from this research as well. The reasons why none of the three applications have been successfully standardized to date are as varied as they are complex.
Developing and culturing man-made biological tissue are expensive, complicated processes due in no small part to the complexity of the skin. Skin is the largest organ of the human body, and contains roughly billion cells. The different cell and tissue types have to work together with the top two skin layers to protect the body from pathogens, heat, cold, and UV radiation. Even a copy from the lab would have to serve those functions.
Cells need to do more than just proliferate in the laboratory—they also have to organize exactly the way they would in the human body, and to do that they need the right mix of nutrients, growth factors, and a scaffold.