Scientists have found the stem cells that produce all the different cells of the skin. The discovery offers a promising development for wound repair or skin transplants. Stem cells are original cells that have the potential to regenerate tissue over a lifetime. The skin has three different types of cells — hair follicles, inter follicular epidermis, and moisturizing sebaceous glands.
Scientists had previously thought that stem cells in each of these three skin populations were capable of producing only their own cell type. Scientists are already able to grow new skin in laboratories using a badly burned patient’s existing skin cells, but the new skin is often thin, brittle, dry and does not have hair — making it look unusual. The Science journal recently published a study by a team of Dutch and Swedish researchers who found in mice that the "mother" of all skin stem cells – the stem cells that produce all the different cells of the skin actually live in hair follicles. The advantage offered by the "mother" stem cell — Lrg6 — would be that skin can be grown from its original basis — allowing it to be "real new skin" with moisture from sebaceous glands and the ability to grow hair. Not just the superficial epidermis layer of skin.
One of the scientists, Hans Clevers, of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Utrecht, told Reuters,
the promise is that these cells are probably going to be much better than anything we have had to date at making new skin.
It may take researchers 2 to 3 years to learn how to isolate the Lrg6 cells in human skin but the results should be far superior to current methods.
We anticipate that experts retained by defendants in burn cases will seek to use the new research to minimize the lasting nature of the injuries that the burn victim has suffered.