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New Study Using Combination of Bioengineered Skin and Stem Cells Shows Promise in Treatment of Non-Healing Wounds
Date:3/5/2009

SAN FRANCISCO, March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that leads to thickening and severe scarring of skin as well as thickening and failure of internal organs, including the lungs, heart, kidneys and intestines. The disease -- which the Scleroderma Foundation estimates affects approximately 300,000 Americans -- can be fatal and there is no cure. A major and incapacitating complication of scleroderma is the development of ulcers on the patients' fingers and toes that are very painful and difficult to heal. Now, researchers are studying the viability of administering stem cells topically to ulcerated fingers using bioengineered skin to help heal these wounds.

Speaking today at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), dermatologist Vincent Falanga, M.D., FAAD, professor of dermatology and biochemistry at Boston University in Boston and chairman of the department of dermatology and skin surgery at Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, R.I., presented his study findings in which cultured stem cells and bioengineered skin were used to successfully treat skin ulcers of three scleroderma patients and discussed how bioengineered skin plays a critical role in this procedure.

"The concept of using bioengineered skin to heal difficult wounds, such as leg and foot ulcers, previously has been shown to be effective for chronic wounds but, in our experience, has not by itself been consistently useful in healing scleroderma finger ulcers," said Dr. Falanga. "Through our research, we learned that our combined approach of using stem cells with bioengineered skin may provide value by 'instructing' the stem cells on how to stimulate healing in a difficult wound."

As a source of stem cells, Dr. Falanga and his team of researchers focused on taking a small amount of bone marrow from the affected patients' hip. This common procedure is performed to
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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