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New Therapies For Skin Trauma

Woman having her hand bandaged

Extensive skin damage is a difficult thing to come back from for anyone. After all, the various layers of your skin need to heal and certain kinds of damage tend to be permanent. Skin grafts used to be our only option for healing particularly substantial damage, but that has slowly been giving way as people seek out newer and better ways of healing such damage. Various things have been being tried ranging from transplants to new medications to applying lab grown skin. All of these elements have had varying levels of success, but the latter seems to be particularly promising in the long run. As a treatment for skin trauma, it allows doctors to replace a damaged area with healthy tissue that can gradually replenish and renew somewhere. This technology merits particular close attention as it may very well be the future for treating substantial skin trauma. You might be surprised to find out how such skin is grown and how many kinds of it there actually are being researched.

Skin Lab
The basic idea of growing any individual part of a human in a lab tends to conjure to mind images from horror or sci-fi movies, but the truth of it is that the entire process is relatively dull to watch. It involves the cultivation and feeding of cells and encouraging them to grow over time. This is eventually what builds up into a form of skin tissue that often looks like a bit of gauze more than anything. The time it takes to grow tends to vary depending on the methods used, but overall it tends to be more time consuming than it is horrific. All of the skin tissue can then be stored in an appropriate solution to keep it healthy until it ready to be examined or used. As of writing this, the vast majority of lab grown skin tissue for medical purposes is still in the testing phases. There are some varieties progressing reliably through human clinical trials and as a result, we may see such tissue becoming the standard treatment for substantial skin trauma in the future.

What It Means
Grafting, the process of removing healthy tissue from one area and applying it to another, remains the current standard treatment for things like burns. The idea is to help skin heal by giving it something healthy to build off of and allowing the area damage for the great to heal naturally. Grafts have a pronounced downside in that, despite research exploring other options, the main option is removing the skin from the patient needing the graft. As a result, an area of their skin needs to be sacrificed to heal another. The end results tend to be uncomfortable and far from perfect. Lab grown tissues offer a way to sidestep the grafting process and instead apply a hopefully universal tissue that the body can recognize and use as the appropriate scaffolding to heal the skin over time. Providing this option will make burn treatments and other cases where substantial damage has been done to the skin far easier to heal and provide natural looking results.

The Future
Clinical trials are what typically weed out treatments that aren’t really as effective as expected. There are a lot of trials going on for uses of lab grown skin. The thickness of the skin varies in some cases and merits its own set of trials thanks to each thickness being better suited to treating particular sets of injuries. Many of the trials are coming back relatively positive and continuing forward all while the researchers continue to refine their techniques. In many ways, growing skin is just the beginning of future trends in healthcare. There is active research into growing the figurative skeleton of organs and then providing sample cells from a patient’s body to grow entire new organs of sections of organs as necessary for the future. All of this research is still very much ongoing and being examined for effectiveness and usability on a larger scale. We may not see many of these lines of research turn up in our treatment for decades yet, but it clear that the future looks more than a little bit like science fiction.

Scars, burns, and other forms of skin trauma permanently damage the skin by destroying the various layers that make it up. The skin can only heal so much on its own. Grafts, the imperfect solution that we have, are less than ideal as sometimes there isn’t enough healthy skin to go around or the pain of the grafting process itself is undesirable. Lab grown skin therapies may very well be the way of the future, but they will have to pass clinical trials first.

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