doi:10.1038/nindia.2018.11 Published online 30 January 2018
Researchers have developed a three-dimensional tissue model that can help understand the underlying mechanisms of scar tissue formation in human skin in response to injuries1. This tissue model might be useful for developing and screening potential anti-scar drugs.
When a wound-healing process goes haywire, scar tissues form in the skin and other organs. Such tissues cause disfigurements on the visible parts of the body, resulting in psychological problems. Since the existing anti-scar drugs developed on the basis of poor understanding of scar tissue formation, they fail to provide the full remedy.
To better understand scar tissue formation, a research team from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, led by Sourabh Ghosh, has invented the three-dimensional skin-scar-tissue model. They then tested its potential to mimic the mechanisms that lead to scar formation.
Fibroblast cells isolated from the skin of healthy individuals were cultured on a three-dimensional scaffold by adding a cocktail of specific proteins that play vital roles in immune responses to injury. The fibroblast cells that play vital roles in the wound-healing process differentiated into a type of intermediate cell known as myofibroblasts.
This differentiation process eventually forms scar tissue. In addition, the scar-tissue model helped identify two specific proteins that regulate this differentiation process. These protein markers can act as potential drug targets to prevent scar formation.
“This skin model might be a useful alternative to animal models for recreating the human skin microenvironment and screening potential anti-scar-drug candidates,” says Ghosh.
1. Chawla, S. et al. Regulation of fibrotic changes by the synergistic effects of cytokines, dimensionality and matrix: towards the development of an in vitro human dermal hypertrophic scar model. Acta. Biomaterialia (2018) doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2018.01.002