Artificial skin regeneration via cell imprinting

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A new method implementing nanotechnology is being explored that could provide a quick and cost efficient way to grow new skin tissue. Cell-imprinting of substrates is a method that uses a silicon base to make casts of mature skin cells and use them as templates. The outer-most layer of the skin is made of cells called keratinocytes, which produce keratin. Keratin is a fibrous structural protein that makes up the protective barrier of the skin. Stem cells located in the outer layer, as well as the layer below, are responsible for healing through new tissue development[2].

 For the use of this skin cell regeneration method, keratinocytes are extracted and used to create the imprint with their surface through polydimethylsiloxane casting. Polydimethylsiloxane is an organic polymer that is commonly used in nanofabrication since it has the advantages of low cost, quick fabrication time, and exceptional biocompatibility[3]. The keratinocyte casting is used to create a biomimetic nano-scaffolding that mimics the morphology of a cell’s plasma membrane surface. In doing so, it creates a replica of the extracellular matrix of the epidermis that is necessary for the proliferation, differentiation, and biosynthesis of keratinocytes[4]. Human adipose-derived stem cells are then extracted and applied to this artificial scaffolding. As a result, the stem cells are driven to differentiate into keratinocytes. The biggest advantage to this method is the ability to use adipose-derived stem cells because they are abundant in the human body. The method provides the ability to control the fate of these stem cells and direct them to become keratinocytes, which means much larger quantities can be produced compared to the body’s normal method of skin cell regeneration. The ability to grow skin cells at an accelerated rate can be used to help patients by providing transplant tissue for their wounds. 

References

  1. Citekey <span style="font-size: 11pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; color: black; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">10.1021/am503045b not found
  2. Lavker RM, Sun T-T. Epidermal stem cells: Properties, markers, and location. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2000 ;97(25):13473 - 13475. Available from: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.250380097
  3. Shao G, Wu J, Cai Z, Wang W. Fabrication of elastomeric high-aspect-ratio microstructures using polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) double casting technique. Sensors and Actuators A: Physical [Internet]. 2012 ;178:230 - 236. Available from: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0924424712000581http://api.elsevier.com/content/article/PII:S0924424712000581?httpAccept=text/xmlhttp://api.elsevier.com/content/article/PII:S0924424712000581?httpAccept=text/plain
  4. Berger M. Biomimetic Nano-environments as Templates for Skin Regeneration. [Internet]. 2014 . Available from: http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=36374.php

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Until now, research involving the control of stem cell differentiation has been unstable and not yet proven reliable or cost effective for commercial use in healthcare. This new technology has the potential to create an efficient means of controlling stem cell fate by cell-imprinted substrates, which encourage the development of new keratinocytes.

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The knowledge of precise risks involved with this method of skin regeneration is limited due to a lack of testing for toxic responses in animals or humans. While laboratory experiments have shown that the cellular substrate may be viable replace to human skin, the application of the material to a human patient could have unknown complications. Unknown risks include the way in which this newly grown tissue would interact with a patient’s existing skin cells, the life span of these cells, and any other side effects caused by nature of artificially manipulated stem cell differentiation.  

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