According to the World Health Organization,more than 180,000 people die every year from severe burns. Fortunately, surgeons can save victims of fires and other accidents from death by transplanting skin from another part of the body, but this process takes quite a while. During the preparation of the patient’s skin, the burn wound is usually covered with donor skin, but it is always in short supply and is extremely expensive. Doctors from the US state of Massachusetts decided to use pig skin as an alternative donor tissue. To their surprise, the operation was successful and the foreign tissue took root perfectly on the human body.
Many of us have known since school years that inalmost the same physiological processes that occur in humans as in humans. That is why the kidneys, liver, spleen and other pig organs are often used for transplantation into human organisms. However, scientists are still not able to establish a transplant of foreign skin into the body of a burned person, because it can be rejected by the immune system due to the presence of so-called endogenous retroviruses in pig skin.
Skin grafting operation
These viruses can cause variousinfections, therefore, foreign skin can be rejected by the protective system of the human body. However, if scientists remove a certain sequence of genes, rejection can be avoided. In general, without editing genes, no pig organ can be transplanted into the human body. Based on this, American scientists decided to change the genetic code of the swine tissue sample and try to temporarily sew it to the burn wound of one of the patients.
Before applying foreign tissue, surgeonscleaned a person’s wound from dead skin. Then, surgeons applied a genetically modified pig flesh measuring 5x5 centimeters to the burned surface. A tissue sample from a human donor was attached next to a piece of pig skin. Both patches were secured with surgical braces and gauze bandages. Read more about the study on the Eurekalert website.
How to cure a severe burn?
Five days later, surgeons checked the affectedsites and found that covered with pig and human tissues, the sites visually almost do not differ. No side effects, such as irritation, were noticed and healing took place normally. In addition to all this, experts from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully checked the work of American researchers. They confirmed that no viruses were detected in tissue samples, so there was nothing surprising in the compatibility of pig and human skin.
By the way, do you know why in China they started raising huge pigs?
According to surgeon Jeremy Goverman, wholed the study, in the future, gene editing may open up new possibilities for treating people with severe burns. In the near future, he and his team intend to conduct an experiment with more volunteers. If everything goes well, in the future, surgeons will begin to use not human but pig skin of a donor and one can forget about the deficit.
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In general, this discovery is very pleasing, becauseburns are a very common injury. Severe damage can be obtained even when wearing protective clothing with a reflective tape. For example, a 40-year-old man who wore overalls in hot weather recently received such an injury. Read more about this case in our special material.