Scientists have figured out how to make wounds heal without scars

Business Insider | 1/10/2017 | Bec Crew, ScienceAlert
townskey13 (Posted by) Level 3
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Whether it's from a surgical procedure, clumsy shaving, or that traumatic biking incident that happened when you were five, just about everyone has a scar they wish would just fade away.

And while there's not a whole lot that can be done for scars that are already there, researchers have figured out how to make fresh wounds heal as normal, regenerated skin, instead of the usual scar tissue — something that was previously thought to be impossible in mammals.

Regeneration - Team - George - Cotsarelis - Chair

"Essentially, we can manipulate wound healing so that it leads to skin regeneration rather than scarring," said one of the team, George Cotsarelis, chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania.

"The secret is to regenerate hair follicles first. After that, the fat will regenerate in response to the signals from those follicles."

Scar - Tissue - Skin - Scar - Tissue

If you've ever wondered why scar tissue looks so different from regular skin, it's because scar tissue doesn't contain any fat cells or hair follicles.

The type of skin that regenerates over a small, superficial cut is filled with fat cells called adipocytes, just like the skin you were born with, which means the two will eventually blend into each other once the wound has healed.

Scar - Tissue - Cells - Myofibroblasts - Cells

But scar tissue is made up almost entirely of cells called myofibroblasts, and doesn't contain any fat cells at all. So instead of blending into the surrounding skin once the wound has fully healed, it looks completely different — permanently.

The same goes for ageing skin — as we age, we lose our adipocytes, which leads to discolouration and deep, irreversible wrinkles.

Scientists - Myofibroblasts - Adipocytes - Wound - Scar

But scientists have discovered that existing myofibroblasts can actually be converted into adipocytes, which suggests that as a wound is healing, scar tissue could be converted to regenerated skin instead — something that scientists thought could only be possible in fish and amphibians.

"The findings show...
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