Biomaterials for skin replacement are currently being applied on patients with burn wounds, surgical wounds and ulcers. These skin substitutes include both acellular and cellular devices. More research in this area is necessary, however, in order to overcome major problems like contraction and scarring.

Within RRM, tissue-engineered 3D  models are being developed to study the biology of normal and diseased skin. Diseases of interest include psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, wound healing and skin cancer. These models can be used to evaluate anti-inflammatory drugs and wound dressings in vitro, and to study tumor invasion. Our established models involve epidermis that is completely regenerated on de-epidermized dermis, collagen gels or filters.  Currently we are extending our systems to include inflammatory cells (T-lymphocytes, dendritic cells) and cancer cells (melanoma).

Skin

3D reconstructed human skin: a fully stratified epidermis on a fibroblast-populated collagen gel (A) and In vitro reconstructed atopic dermatitis skin, showing the clinical signs of the disease such as spongiosis and apoptosis (B).

Prof. Joost Schalkwijk, Department of Dermatology