Researchers report a new method for post-operative wound closing and healing that is both fast and effective. This innovative wound care strategy revolves around engineered “cell sheets” — or layers of skin-based cells. The medical procedure culminates in a wound dressing that is custom made for a specific cut or lesion that can be used to effectively treat open skin areas after surgeries.
Junji Fukuda, a professor at the Faculty of Engineering, Yokohama National University, Yokohama,The study’s findings were published in a recent Scientific Reports on July 18th and have the potential to address one of the greatest challenges of post-operative procedure, the successful adhesion and closing of wounds created during surgery. Following operations, wounds have to be closed properly to avoid medical complications.
More than a decade ago, cell engineering was proposed and over the years the procedure has demonstrated successful outcomes in clinical trials for treatment of the esophagus, periodontal tissue, heart, and cornea. According to the researchers, the cell sheets that have been engineered to date, while sturdy, take a long time to make, which is not optimal if they are to be placed on open wounds after surgery. Furthermore, these cell sheets have only been optimal on flat surfaces, which rules out a majority of surgeries performed on parts of the body that are not flat, such as the intestine, they say.
Creating the Cell Sheet
“We start out with a scan of the surgical site, then design and print a 3D mold of the surface that needs be covered,” says corresponding author Junji Fukuda, a professor at the Faculty of Engineering, Yokohama National University, Yokohama, Japan in a Sept 18 statement detailing the study’s findings. “This surface is then coated with a gold-thin layer before cells are seeded and grown on the gold-plated mold. The gold cover speeds up the ultimate removal of the layer of cells that create the cell sheet, by using our original electrochemical approach,” he says.
The researchers tested the method on mouse model and found that they were able to transplant the engineered cell sheet directly into the mice animals. They demonstrated that they effectively designed a 3D model of a surface to be covered after which they grew a cell sheet on it that they eventually successfully transplanted into mice. This cell sheet transplant onto arbitrary surfaces is a great advancement from previous cell sheets that were only effective on flat areas.
Performing Future Research
The researchers plan to perform experiments on large animal disease models in their future studies. “We hope to prove that this approach is beneficial to the treatment of postoperative adhesion and occlusion,” they say, noting that “Our ultimate goal is to integrate this approach to endoscopic surgery.”