Ever chopped part of your finger off in a bagel slicer? I'm more of a waffle man myself, but if you've ever sacrificed a chunk of skin to the bagel gods, you know that getting skin grafted on is a doubly painful experience. Not only does it involve surgery on your wound but you also need to cut some extra skin off somewhere else to serve as the donor. Owies!
Looking our for non-masochists, a Cambridge, U.K., company has created a "skin-graft replacement product" — essentially a synthetic skin. Since it uses much of the same elements in normal human skin (collagen-based fibroblasts, for you med students), it's technically called an allogeneic replacement, which means it's from an unrelated donor. In a trial, six volunteers had the lab-manufactured product, called ICX-SKN, grafted onto a wound or burn. After 28 days, the synthskin had fully integrated with the patient's, closing the wound.
Sounds like a great development, and we're looking forward to the day it's featured on ER. One question: does having skin created in a lab make you bionic?