Using microcarriers to improve healing

Sprayed cell technology is used to heal complicated burn wounds in children and very severe cases, where there is often little available skin for grafting. The cells used for spraying lack good adhesion properties, so this projects aims to find ways to improve the process, using collagen. Collagen is a natural component of the skin and can therefore be absorbed by the body. The objective is to integrate the cells into collagen membranes or microcarriers (engineered to support cell growth) incorporated into a biological dressing made from collagen.

By compressing collagen into a thin sheet, it produces a flexible and robust dressing, which can be used alone or to apply cell-laden microcarriers on to the wound. Using commercially available collagen, which has been approved for use in dermal fillers, a new way of growing human keratinocytes (the top layer of the skin) has been developed without the need to use a feeder cell layer (usually mouse cells). These initial experiments have been able to reduce the time it takes to produce enough cells by 10-12 days. At the moment it can take up to three weeks.

These two advances could potentially cut down the time between isolating cells from a patient’s skin sample and spraying them back on to the wound.