Artificial skin successfully constructed using stem cells
Source: www.cbtrust.org.uk, nhs.uk, semanticscholar.org
Both burns and wound repair represent significant impacts to the individual and the NHS as a whole.
Most people can recover from burns without serious health consequences, depending on the cause and degree of injury. More serious burns require immediate emergency medical care to prevent complications and death.
Burn injuries pose a considerable burden to the NHS, with 250,000 patients presenting to primary care teams and a further 175,000 patients presenting to A&E annually in the UK. In Europe as a whole, almost 2 million people suffer from burns annually. Therefore it is feasible that most practising nurses will encounter a patient with a burn at some point in their working lives.
The other primary form of skin damage is a wound, which is a type of injury which tends to happen relatively quickly in which the skin is torn, cut, or punctured (an open wound), or where blunt force trauma causes a contusion (a closed wound).
A significant portion of wounds are minor and can be dealt with through the natural healing processes of the body, however with an increasingly ageing population there has been a significant growth in the numbers of chronic wounds.
Some 200,000 patients in the UK have a chronic wound. In a typical UK hospital between 25% and 40% of beds will be occupied by patients with wounds and in the community, management of wounds takes up over half of all resources.
Disease states such as diabetes have a surprisingly high association with wounds. In Europe, diabetes already affects 20.2 million people, a figure predicted to rise by 37% over the next two decades.
Research Into Stem Cell Treatment
Recent developments have demonstrated that there is the potential for the use of stem cell therapies for both burns and wounds.
With a burn, healing involves a series of complex processes which are subject to intensive investigations to improve the outcomes, in particular, the healing time and the quality of the scar.
Burn injuries, especially severe ones, are proving to have devastating effects on the affected patients. Stem cells have been recently applied in the field to promote superior healing of the wounds. Not only have stem cells been shown to promote better and faster healing of the burn wounds, but also they have decreased the inflammation levels with less scar progression and fibrosis. And now, encouragingly, the idea of using adult stem cells, especially mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), is becoming more realistic in burn treatments.
Stem cells have also been implicated in the healing of wounds in general. With several studies showing the efficacy of stem cells in promoting faster and superior wound healing. Whilst using stem cells to heal wounds is not a new concept, until recently testing had been largely experimental. However, stem cells are now being tested for more advanced versions of skin tissue engineering and regenerative wound healing.
As ever the science will continue to move ahead and to find out more about the latest developments.
Protect Their Future Health
To keep up to date with the latest developments in stem cell therapy and the treatment of heart disease, make sure to check back regularly to our blog.