We could be closer than ever to regenerating skin for burn victims

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The human body is pretty good at fixing itself, but now, science may help it get even better. Thanks to a major breakthrough from a small biotech company in Utah, we may be closer to regenerating our body’s largest organ — our skin. In initial experiments, Salt Lake City, Utah-based PolarityTED has successfully regenerated skin in pigs with burns and abrasions, and this could herald imminent success in humans as well.

As the company explains on its website, “Using our investigational platform technology, we seek to regenerate full-thickness, fully functional skin in humans with our launch product, SkinTE. The process we are developing should allow a patient’s own skin to be fully expanded from a small biopsy, and then regenerate all layers (epidermis & dermis), hair, and appendages — which has never been done before.”

Currently, burn victims have “severely limited” options when it comes to solutions to damaged skin, said PolarityTE’s founder and CEO Denver Lough in an interview with Reuters. Skin grafts are a possibility, but even the most advanced versions are a rather unsatisfactory substitute for the real thing. But PolarityTE’s SkinTE may provide a tenable solution.

In its pre-clinical study, PolarityTE used its new technology on pigs, and its SkinTE therapy “resulted in scar-less healing, growth of hair follicles, complete wound coverage, and the progressive regeneration of all skin layers,” according to the company. And don’t worry — pigs weren’t arbitrarily chosen as lab animals. Rather, because swine skin is a bit more complicated and stronger than human skin, success with pigs is generally considered a good omen for effectiveness among humans.

Human trials could begin as early as later this year, and the therapy itself might be made available 12 to 18 months after these trials are completed. Lough noted, “If clinically successful, the PolarityTE platform could deliver the first scientific breakthrough in wound healing and reconstructive surgery in nearly half a century.”