Researchers transformed tissue cells into skin cells to heal wounds

First time ever, researchers have found a new technique that could transform care for victims of burns and other severe injuries. Basically, the researchers have transformed tissue cells into skin cells to help heal serious wounds. According to the AFP report, the research has been done for many decades and it holds a lot of promise for various patients, including elderly patients with bedsore, patients with serious burns and other recurring lesions.

On September 6, the study has been published in the journal Nature. The study involves a technology called “cell reprogramming” in which genes are placed into cells to change them from one form to another.

The lead author Masakazu Kurita reportedly said that this is the first description of reprogramming of tissue cells to skin cells. And he is really excited about the results. The research has been a laborious and painstaking process.

The first stage involved identifying genes present in skin cells but not in tissue cells, which could be isolated and then inserted into tissue cells to transform them. The researchers picked around 80 candidate genes featured in skin cells, then they tried combinations.

In 2014, Masakazu Kurita breakthrough came, when he used a combination of 28 genes and successfully reprogrammed tissue cells into skin cells in a culture dish.

He moved to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California in 2015 to collaborate with a team of specialists from around the world.

However, he and his colleagues conducted around 2,000 trials with different combinations of genes, looking for the most efficient way to transform cells. Eventually, they found a four-gene combination and began testing it in wounds on mice.

To promote healing they sealed the wounds off from the surrounding skin to replicate the difficult conditions at the centre of a large burn or similar injury, with no adjacent skin.

They were able to heal a lesion one centimetre in diameter in around two weeks by using the new technology, along with existing drug treatments.

Their data suggest the feasibility of a completely new therapy which could be used for the closure of wounds from various causes.

Kurita reportedly said that the most obvious application of this technology would be severe burns covering large parts of the body, which are usually treated with skin grafts.

But according to the researchers, the technology needs another decade of work to make it available to patients.

Published: September 7, 2018 3:01 pm