A Hydrogel That Grows New Skin
A hydrogel that grows new skin on burn sites. Photo: Johns Hopkins University.
The standard medical procedure for treating third-degree burns is to replace damaged skin with a graft from another part of the body, or from skin tissue cultured in a laboratory. These skin-replacement procedures are painful and complicated—driving researchers to seek better treatments.
Recently, scientists from Johns Hopkins University discovered that a new formulation of hydrogel encourages skin growth on burned areas. The substance—which consists of water and dextran—is able to grow new skin in three weeks, in addition to integral blood vessels, skin oil glands, and hair follicles. Moreover, the new growth is not scar tissue, but rather healthy skin that will likely be much less evident than traditional skin grafts.
The researchers believe that the hydrogel will be inexpensive to produce, and can be manufactured at large volumes in only a few years. A paper on the discovery was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.