Researchers at the Salk Institute have developed a method to reprogram stem cells in skin ulcers and sores to differentiate into epithelial (skin) cells. The treatment advance has the potential to revolutionize treatment options for patients suffering from chronic skin conditions such as epidermolysis bullosa, ulcers and sores due to diabetes, bedsores and severe burns. Typically, there is an abundance of stem cells at the site of wounds such as ulcers. However, the stem cells prioritize dealing with inflammation and infection over the regeneration of skin tissue. The researchers sought to reprogram wound-resident mesenchymal stem cells in vivo [inside the body] by applying transduction factors, which directed the stem cells to generate skin tissue. Hence, the treatment is designed to generate new skin at the site of the wound as opposed to the current approach of utilizing a skin graft.
A team of Italian researchers have injected autologous [the patient’s own] mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] into patients suffering from digital ulcers (DU). The ulcers are brought about by systemic sclerosis (SSc), a connective tissue disease that progressively degrades blood vessels, causing havoc across multiple organ systems. DUs are slow to heal and are often unresponsive to therapies in individuals with SSc.