Burns research & reconstructive surgery

Skin Tissue Engineering Using a Biodegradable Polymer

Mart'nez Tobón D. I., Taylor A., Maitz P and Li Z.

Engineered skin substitutes, resembling natural human skin structure and containing living skin cells, would provide excellent alternatives for severe burn wound management.

The aim of this study is to construct a bio-active, hybrid scaffold that is biodegradable, biocompatible and porous in structure to support skin cell growth. This project is designed to develop a composite using collagen, and a FDA-approved biodegradable polyester, polycaprolactone. The scaffold will be used for regenerating a 3-D skin substitute under laboratory conditions. More importantly, the scaffolds will be made bio-active containing protein factors to facilitate wound healing.

At this stage, work is focused on characterizing structural features of the scaffold, including pore size, and optimizing skin cell growth in the scaffold. Human skin cells, including fibroblasts and keratinocytes obtained from a small skin biopsy and expanded in the laboratory, are seeded into the scaffold to grow. The construct is currently under investigation to determine skin cell proliferation and differentiation, and the expression of growth factors and other proteins crucial to wound healing. Long term goals include animal studies and eventually clinical trials.