A report from the Fraunhofer Research Institute found that body sweat glands are a source of stem cells suited to healing wounds.
The researchers separated human skin cells under a microscope into millimeter-sized living sweat glands, multiplying the cells contained in these glands outside the body and inducing them to form cells of different types.
“We used these to populate a substrate, and then put the substrate on a wound we had previously generated on a skin specimen,” Charli Kruse, PhD, head of the Fraunhofer Research Institution for marine Biotechnology EMB in Lübeck, Germany, stated in a press release.
Researchers found that the wounds healed significantly faster and better with the stem cells than without them because the substrate gives the cells a solid structure and can be made of collagen which can later be replaced by the body’s own fibrous proteins.
“Without this structure the cells would be taken by the bloodstream and transported away from the site,” Kruse stated. “It is imperative that the cells stay as fixed as possible on the site of the wound as only then can they react with the skin and take part in the healing process.”
In collaboration with Bioengery CellTec GmbH, Fraunhofer EMB is working on developing new products for wound repair using a biopolymer suited to combine with cells. Currently, the researchers are investigating whether it is the cells themselves that build new skin cells and blood vessels or whether their role is to manage healing processes by releasing growth hormones to activate immune cells.
For more information:
Sweat glands heal injuries. Available at: http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2014/February/sweat-glands-heal-injuries.html. Accessed Feb. 5, 2014.