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Skin grafts from genetically modified pigs may offer alternative for burn treatment
Date:5/27/2014

A specially-bred strain of miniature swine lacking the molecule responsible for the rapid rejection of pig-to-primate organ transplants may provide a new source of skin grafts to treat seriously burned patients. A team of investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that skin grafts from pigs lacking the Gal sugar molecule were as effective in covering burn-like injuries on the backs of baboons as skin taken from other baboons, a finding that could double the length of time burns can be protected while healing. The report in the journal Transplantation has been published online.

"This exciting work suggests that these GalT-knockout porcine skin grafts would be a useful addition to the burn-management armamentarium," says Curtis Cetrulo, MD, of the MGH Transplantation Biology Research Center (TBRC) and the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, corresponding author of the Transplantation paper. "We are actively exploring options for establishing clinical-grade production of these grafts and hope to begin a clinical trial in due course."

A key component in the treatment of major burns, particularly those involving more than 30 percent of the body surface, is removing the damaged skin and covering the injury, preferably with a graft of a patient's own tissue. When insufficient undamaged skin is available for grafting, tissue from deceased donors is used as a temporary covering. But deceased-donor skin grafts are in short supply and expensive disadvantages also applying to artificial skin grafts must be carefully tested for pathogens and are eventually rejected by a patient's immune system. Once a deceased-donor graft has been rejected, a patient's immune system will reject any subsequent deceased-donor grafts almost immediately.

The current study was designed to investigate whether a resource already available at the MGH might help expand options for protecting burned areas following
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Contact: Mike Morrison
mdmorrison@partners.org
617-724-6425
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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