Human Skin: the New Medical Yarn
Written by: Melinda Li
Edited by: Kelly Fan
On January 22nd, a team of French scientists from the University of Bordeaux published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia the findings of their study: “yarn” grown from human skin could be used to stitch up wounds or in tissue-engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs).
The researchers cultivated sheets of Cell-Assembled extracellular Matrix (CAM) from human fibroblasts, cells responsible for making collagen and extracellular matrix, and cut them into long thin strips that were then woven into a flexible yarn. The scientists used the yarn to stitch a rat’s wound together and observed no signs of inflammation over the following two weeks. Additionally, they also used the material to create a skin graft with a custom-made circular loom for a sheep’s artery to stop leakage.
This is a significant discovery because most traditional synthetic biomaterials are recognized as foreign by the immune system and often trigger an immune response and inflammation. Human skin as a biomaterial will have the ability to “truly integrate into the host’s body” , while textile-based assembly will ensure that it is also mechanically strong.
“We can sew pouches, create tubes, valves and perforated membranes,” says lead researcher Nicholas L’Heureux. “With the yarn, any textile approach is feasible: knitting, braiding, weaving, even crocheting.” 
This new technology has yet to undergo testing on human subjects, but the results so far are promising, especially with regards to biocompatibility and the potential it holds for completely biological tissue-engineered medical products.
 Parsons J. Yarn grown from human skin cells lets scientists stitch people up with their own flesh. Metro [Internet]. 2020 [Cited 2020 Feb 16]. Available from:https://metro.co.uk/2020/02/05/yarn-grown-human-skin-cells-lets-scientists-stitch-people-flesh-12184862/
 Magnan L, Labrunie G, Fénelon M, Dusserre N, Foulc MP, Lafourcade M, et al. Human textiles: A cell-synthesized yarn as a truly “bio” material for tissue engineering applications. Acta Biomaterialia. 2020 [Cited Feb 16 2020]. DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2020.01.037
 Urquhart J. Yarn grown from human skin cells could be knitted into your body. New Scientist [Internet]. 2020 [Cited 2020 Feb 16]. Available from: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2232357-yarn-grown-from-human-skin-cells-could-be-knitted-into-your-body/
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