Applied tissue engineering in the closure of severe burns and chronic wounds using cultured human autologous keratinocytes in a natural fibrin matrix
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Whereas in severe burns cultured human epithelial cells may well serve as a life saving method, the true value of tissue-engineered skin products in chronic wound care has yet to be clearly defined. Among other well-known clinical problems, the engraftment rate of commercially available multilayered "sheet grafts" has been shown to vary extremely. Adherence of transplanted cells to the wound bed--especially in the presence of potential wound contamination-- is one of the crucial aspects of this technique. Keratinocyte suspensions in a natural fibrin sealant matrix can potentially treat a variety of skin defects. In acute burn wounds, as well as in chronic wounds the clinical application of this type of tissue-engineered skin substitute demonstrates the capacity of cultured human autologous keratinocytes in a fibrin sealant matrix to adhere to wound beds, attach and spread over the wound resulting in reepithelialization of both acute and chronic wounds. In full thickness burns the combination of this new tool with allogenic dermis is a promising option to achieve complete dermal-epidermal reconstitution by means of tissue engineering and guided tissue repair. When transferring this technique into the treatment of chronic wounds we found an optimal preparation of such recipient wound beds to be crucial to the success. The additional application of continuous negative pressure (vacuum therapy) and preliminary chip skin grafting to optimally prepare the recipient site may be helpful tools to achieve such well-prepared and graftable surfaces. Prospective controlled comparative studies should be designed to further assess the clinical efficacy of this technique.
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