June 26, 2007 / 7:47 AM / 12 years ago

Intercytex artificial skin heals wounds in tests

LONDON (Reuters) - A British biotechnology company has developed a long-lasting artificial skin that has produced promising results in healing wounds in early clinical trials.

A combination image showing (top) the ICX-SKN artificial skin being applied to open skin, (middle) the progress at the 21 day mark and (bottom) the progress at the 28 day mark. A biotechnology company has developed a long-lasting artificial skin that has produced promising results in healing wounds in early clinical trials. REUTERS/Future Science Group/Intercytex Group/Handout

Scientists said the advance could mark a breakthrough in regenerative medicine.

Intercytex Group Plc, which specializes in cell therapy, said on Tuesday its laboratory-made living skin was fully and consistently integrated into the human body. The group’s shares rose 12 percent to 66-1/2 pence in early trade.

The new skin appears to work better than other substitutes tried in the past, which biodegrade in situ after a few weeks.

Results of the tests were published in the journal Regenerative Medicine and showed that Intercytex’s artificial skin, ICX-SKN, was fully integrated after 28 days, producing a closed and healed wound site.

Intercytex now plans to test ICX-SKN on larger wounds and move on to pivotal clinical trials that would generate sufficient data to seek a marketing license.

Current best practice for serious wounds is to use a skin graft taken from a different part of the patient’s own body — but this is a painful process and creates a new wound.

ICX-SKN is made up of a matrix produced by the same skin cells — fibroblasts — that are responsible for laying down the collagen in natural skin. The fibroblasts weave a structure which mimics that found in skin.

Stephen Minger, an expert in cell biology at King’s College London, said the results marked “a real breakthrough” in wound healing and regenerative medicine in general.

“To have an off-the-shelf skin replacement product that can be used in large numbers of patients will revolutionize the treatment of burned and skin damaged patients,” he said.

Intercytex founder Paul Kemp hopes to develop a range of cell-based implants that can regenerate lost tissue.

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