November 17, 2014

There are many reasons why a person could need a skin graft at some point in his or her lifetime. Three of the most common examples are severe burns, open wound injuries and skin cancer. Skin grafts are a routine treatment for enclosing the skin defects in many of these cases, but the process is not without flaws. The failure rate for a skin graft is almost 30 percent, though a number of significant contributing factors (such as obesity or an immunodeficiency disease) could be to blame in some cases.

The most common type of skin graft is a split-thickness graft, where two layers of donor skin are transplanted to the wounded area. More severe injuries, however, require a more complex type of procedure called a full-thickness skin graft. This procedure involves the donor flap of skin to include the underlying muscles and blood supply to ensure a successful graft. An open fracture or severe infection could be reason for a full-thickness skin graft.

As with any surgery or transplant, there is a risk of complications. With a skin graft there is the possibility of infection, improper healing, graft rejection, skin discoloration or uneven scars on the skin surface. You and your healthcare professional must be cautious in the aftercare of the wound and act promptly at any sign of improper healing.

Can cord blood stem cells help improve the likelihood of a successful treatment?

Researchers are working to improve the efficacy of skin grafts and improve the rate of successful engraftments. A resource currently being studied as a potential aid in this endeavor is the use of cord blood stem cells. Earlier this year, researchers at a university in Iran applied somatic stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood to a scaffold that had been modified with a chitosan polymer1. The intent of this experiment was to observe whether or not it would promote skin growth, and after a post-trial analysis of the structural, cellular and physical properties, they found it was a success and showed promise for future treatments. The cord blood-treated skin scaffold displayed a higher degree of flexibility and anticipated movement, as well as improved cell bonding, regeneration and cell proliferation, compared to an unmodified version. The results of the modified scaffold were also superior to the unmodified control scaffold in subsequent animal trials involving the engraftment for wound closure. Further research is planned but these discoveries make the researchers hopeful that cord blood stem cells could soon play a considerable role in tissue engineering and wound repair treatments.

Cord blood stem cells are already a dynamic tool in a doctor’s arsenal for treating many diseases and injuries. Currently, the cells have the ability to treat and/or cure more than 80 diseases and disorders. Helping to improve and heal debilitating and disfiguring skin injuries is just one more item to add to the long list of reasons for why cord blood banking is a wise choice for your child. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give your child the gift of future health.

  • 1: Zeinali R, Biazar E, Keshel SH, Tavirani MR, Asadipour K. Regeneration of full-thickness skin defects using umbilical cord blood stem cells loaded into modified porous scaffolds. ASAIO J. 2014 Jan-Feb; 60(1):106-14. doi: 10.1097/MAT.0000000000000025. PubMed PMID: 24346243.
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