Yes to Flawless! Scientists Figure Out How to Heal Wound Without Leaving Scar
Say hello to a youthful, flawless skin! Researchers have found a way to heal wounds without leaving any scar by manipulating wounds to heal as regenerated skin rather than scar tissue. Because of this, even wrinkles could just be a thing of the past.
The team composed of researchers from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and from Plikus Laboratory for Developmental and Regenerative Biology at the University of California, Irvine published their findings online in the journal Science on the first week of January this year.
Until this study, it was thought that turning cells found in wounds into fat cells was impossible.
"Essentially, we can manipulate wound healing so that it leads to skin regeneration rather than scarring," said George Cotsarelis, MD, the chair of the Department of Dermatology and the Milton Bixler Hartzell Professor of Dermatology at Penn, and the principal investigator of the project said in a press release. "The secret is to regenerate hair follicles first. After that, the fat will regenerate in response to the signals from those follicles."
According to Science Alert, our normal skin is composed of fat cells called adipocytes. These adipocytes are lost when scars are formed as well as wrinkles and replaced with cells called myofibroblasts. Thus, the completely different skin appearance.
"Typically, myofibroblasts were thought to be incapable of becoming a different type of cell," Cotsarelis explained. "But our work shows we have the ability to influence these cells, and that they can be efficiently and stably converted into adipocytes. This was shown in both the mouse and in human keloid cells grown in culture."
On the first part of the study, the researchers found that in regenerating skin, fat cells and hair follicles develop separately but not independently. Hair follicles always come first. They eventually assumed that since hair follicles develop first, it also assists the production of fat cells. Further analysis led them to discover that hair follicles releases growth factor called Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP), which particularly instructs scar tissue forming cells to transform into fat, regenerating the skin, ZME Science reported.
If hair follicles were induced to grow where a wound was healing, the resulting skin would appear as if it never had a wound in the first place.
For now, the experiment is still at the proof of concept stage. But testing it successfully on humans could be a big step not only towards anti-aging but as well as treatment for HIV.