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Artificial Skin!

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  • Artificial Skin!

    Skin is the largest organ in a human body. Skin performs many tasks such as protecting the body from heat, cold and micro organisms; preserving the fluid balance; controlling the body temperature; sense the outside world and help to prevent and to fight invading diseases.

    Severe damages to large areas of skin, expose human body to dehydration and infection that may result in the death of the person. Traditional ways of dealing with loss of skin is to skin graft. The healthy skin is taken from the other parts of the body like the thighs and used to cover the damaged areas. But at times there may not be enough skin to cover the damaged areas, in this autologous skin grafting .

    The skin taken from a donor may be rejected by the body while the skin taken from a cadaver may cause infections. Allografts also pose several problems. To solve these problems, research is being done to grow artificial skin in the laboratory.

    Collagen is the protein underlying the structure of the skin. A collagen scaffold is seeded with the patientís own cells to grow large sheets of artificial skin in the lab. These sheets are used to prevent the bacteria from invading the body and the shocks caused by the dehydration. This blanket of artificial skin encourages the growth of new skin.

    The outer skin called Epidermal skin can be grown in the lab. Scientists do not know how to grow the underlying dermal skin-which has the sensory nerves, the blood vessels, the sweat glands and hair follicles- in the lab yet!

    Visalakshi Ramani