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The green structure is a tissue scaffold with pores. Clockwise are diagrams showing microstructured tissue templates  (Source: Ying Zheng)
Dermal templates with multichannels promote the growth of healthy tissue/cells in those with severe burns

Cornell University researchers have developed a new method of healing that encourages healthy skin to permeate wounded areas of the body, which could be beneficial for burn victims. 

Abraham Stroock, study leader and associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Cornell University, and Dr. Jason A. Spector, assistant professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, have used advanced tissue graft designs to encourage growth of the vascular system, which is a network of vessels that carry blood and circulate fluid in the body.

The Cornell team developed dermal templates made of a biomaterial called type 1 collagen. The biomaterial is composed of tissue scaffolds the size of a dime, and has a consistency much like tofu.

The dermal templates were designed to encourage vascular growth to a wounded area through networks of microchannels. This system promotes growth of the vessels and dermis tissue, and the healthy tissue and cells are guided toward the wound quickly through the microchannels.

"The challenge was how to promote vascular growth and to keep this newly forming tissue alive and healthy as it heals and becomes integrated into the host," said Stroock.   

The researchers found that healthy tissue and cells could be guided through the microchannels to the wound quickly and in an organized fashion. While dermal plates are not a new discovery, the Cornell scientists' system of microchannels is a new addition to the familiar system. 

Spector noted that traditional dermal plates without the microchannels do not promote the growth of healthy tissue and cells as quickly as Cornell's new system.

"They can take a long time to incorporate into the person you're putting them in," said Spector. "When you're putting a piece of material on a patient and the wound is acellular, it has a big risk for infection and requires lots of dressing changes and care. Ideally you want to have a product or material that gets vascularized very rapidly."

Since type 1 collagen is biocompatible with no living cells, it does not raise concerns regarding rejection of the template or immune system response

In addition, this less invasive system could one day replace the need for multiple surgeries over exposed structures like tendons and bones. Also, the reduced time needed for healing will get patients up and going faster.





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