Whether due to falls, sports injuries, accidents or surgical procedures, few are those of us who don’t bear scars. Previously thought impossible, researchers now discovered a way to make wounds heal without scars.
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine, conducted a large-scale, multi-year study and published the results in the journal Science. The new method allows doctors to manipulate the healing process so that skin regeneration occurs scar-free.
Adipocytes (adipose cells) are normally found in the skin but are lost during healing.
On the other hand, myofibroblasts are cells found in healing wounds, which until now have been thought only to form scar tissue. The scar tissue is devoid of hair follicles, which gives it this abnormal appearance compared to the rest of the skin. Basing their work on these characteristics, researchers were able to change myofibroblasts into fat cells that do not cause scarring.Scientists converted #myofibroblasts into #adipocytes for scar-free healing.Click To Tweet
Scar tissue is devoid of hair follicles, which aids in the abnormal appearance compared to the rest of the skin. Basing their work on these characteristics, researchers were able to change myofibroblasts into fat cells that do not cause scarring.
Hair Follicles Makes the Difference in Skin Regeneration
Scientists have discovered that they can convert existing myofibroblasts into adipocytes. Their findings suggest that scar tissue can regenerate skin during healing.
Regenerating unscarred skin was considered impossible in mammals. However, researchers manipulated wound healing in such a way that healthy skin regenerated.
The solution of the new method is to regenerate first the hair follicles. After that, the fat will also regenerate in response to signals sent by follicle regeneration.
“The secret is to regenerate hair follicles first,” explains George Cotsarelis, the chair of the Department of Dermatology and the Milton Bixler Hartzell Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, “after that, the fat will regenerate in response to the signals from those follicles.”
Researchers found out that hair follicles contain a signaling protein called the Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP). This protein appears to be able to convert myofibroblasts into adipocytes.
A Medical Breakthrough in Skin Regeneration
The conversion of myofibroblasts into adipocytes is nothing short of a medical breakthrough. If the team could reproduce the results in a human patient, a new method of skin regeneration healing would arise.
The doctors hope their method will eventually alleviate adipocyte loss, not just in wound healing, but in other conditions such as aging and baldness.
“Our findings can potentially move us toward a new strategy,” says Cotsarelis, “to regenerate adipocytes in wrinkled skin, which could lead us to brand new anti-aging treatments.”