Burns research & reconstructive surgery

Efficacy and safety of engineered skin substitute and dressing materials on skin wound healing- a mouse model study

Taylor A., Neuwiendyk K., Rnjak J., Maitz P. and Li Z.

The lack of autologous skin grafts is always a major issue in treating patients with large and deep burn injuries. Clinically, it is still quite common to observe delayed wound healing, which could lead to wound infection, scar development, deterioration of the patient’s well-being and even death.

Cultured autologous skin cells or substitutes are emerging as an important alternative for wound coverage and closure. The advance in biotechnology has enabled us to grow different types of skin cells and skin substitutes by skin tissue engineering technology in Concord Hospital's Skin Culture Laboratory. Skin tissue engineering involves using different biomaterials such as recombinant collagen and elastin or bio-compatible polymers as porous scaffolds to support skin cell attachment, growth and differentiation into skin tissue. Various wound dressing materials and dressing regimes are also designed in our laboratory in an attempt to provide favourable growth conditions for cultured skin cells and to speed up the wound healing process. Wound healing is a very complicated process in which host factors and metabolisms play a critical role. Although the engineered skin looks structurally similar to normal human skin containing epidermal and dermal layers, the bio-safety and efficacy of engineered skin and wound dressing products will need to be tested in an animal model before proceeding to further clinical trials.

The aim of this study is therefore to establish a mouse model to assess the role of engineered skin products or dressings in wound healing. After receiving skin products or dressing materials, the animal host response of each mouse will also be examined at cellular and molecular levels. This study will provide significant information on the efficacy and safety of laboratory-developed, bio-scaffold skin substitutes and dressing materials.