Burns research & reconstructive surgery

Skin cell culture on hollow fibre-collagen scaffold

Shu C., Lord M., McFarland C., Maitz P. and Li Z.

Cultured skin substitutes are usually grown on the rigid surface of tissue culture flasks under laboratory conditions. This does not reflect the natural process of human skin development in the dynamic in vivo environment, whereby mechanical loads such as bending, folding, stretching and twisting are continually imposed on the developing tissue. To address this, we have developed a hollow fibre-collagen scaffold system for development of cultured skin grafts.

Fibres extracted from plasmapheresis cartridges are incorporated into the scaffold design to allow complete nutrient diffusion to support cell growth. The collagen-hollow fibre scaffold structure has the advantage of flexibility and direct delivery of nutrients through diffusion, which more closely resembles in vivo conditions than a conventional tissue culture flask. This flexible scaffold potentially allows the mechanical manipulation of the three-dimensional cell culture and may stimulate realistic sheet skin structure formation. We have been investigating the cell growth conditions and to examine cell behaviour in the scaffold system in attempt to develop a skin substitute for clinical use using this system.