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Science As A Human Endeavour Investigation: Stem Cells For Skin Grafts

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Skin makes up 16% of every human’s body weight, which makes skin the largest organ, therefore, the most vulnerable to our environment and actions. It monitors and controls the body’s thermoregulation. This is important as the body temperature needs to be maintained between an average of 37°C to 37.8°C, to be able to function at its full potential. Once the skin is damaged it not much loses this ability to be able to monitor the body’s thermoregulation Stem cells start off basic and then can adapt to match the specific characteristics of the original cell that they are replacing. A Skin graft is a medical procedure that involves transplanting skin from a health region of the body to the damaged area or wound. This report will explore the SHE / Key concept of Development, discussing the developments in skin graft technology through the use of stem cells on third degree burns.

A burn is an injury that effects skin tissue. Causes of burns can vary from a number of different factors; heat, cold, electricity, chemicals, friction or radiation.[footnoteRef:3] When skin is burnt, a cellular inflammatory reaction response occurs. This response generally occurs to protect the body from pathogens and foreign materials from entering or infecting the body. However, when the skin is subject to burns, this response intensifies, which can cause the injury to become more severe. In the area in which the burn has taken place. Cells have been damaged, intense evaporation leads to the cell losing all its fluid, physical damage to the membrane, oxidation and the extra cellular proteins lose their adhesiveness from the burn which causes the skin cells separate. Burns are categorised into 3 different categories depending on the severity and thickness of the burn (figure 1). The three different types of burns include first degree burns where the epidermis layer of skin (outer) is damaged, second degree burns where the dermis layers of the skin (middle) are damaged, and third degree burns where the damage affects the hypodermis skin tissues (figure 2).

A stem cells is a cell that has the ability to be manipulated and developed to be a specialised cell (Figure 3). Stem cells can be used to replace damaged tissues such as burnt skin cells. Stem cells have unique properties that enable the cells to continually divide and produce new cells. When cells divide, they can change into different type of cells, there are three types of stem cells, embryonic, adult and induced pluripotent / iPS stem cells.[footnoteRef:5] Third degree burns victims are treated using a procedure called skin grafting. Induced pluripotent stem cells are used for a type of skin graft that heels third degree burns victims. In this procedure adult skin cells are manipulated by scientists in laboratory settings. The manipulation is the rearranging of the cell’s DNA sequences.[footnoteRef:6]This transforms the adult cell into stem cells. These stem cells are known as iPS stem cell as the DNA sequences of the cell have been reprogrammed, these stem cells can become a verity of specific stem cells such as skin cells which are used for skin grafts.

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Third degree burns wound are regally non healing wounds, patients that have burns this extreme have to undergo a medical procedure to heal the damaged area. There are many varieties of skin grafting procedures that can be used depending on the wound. Researcher are developing the use of stem cells for skin grafts.

In 1881 the first recorded successful skin graft procedure took place to treat a burn wound.[footnoteRef:7] Skin grafting is where skin or stem cells are harvested from the victim’s body to then be transplanted on to the wound. Skin grafting has been developing ever since the 1880s and is the most common treatment used to treat burns patients. There are three different types of skin grafts that can be used, Autograft is where the patient’s own skin cells are used from a healthy region of the body. Allograft is where the skin graft comes from a donor and Xenograft which is skin grafts obtained from an animal usually a pig. All three of these skin grafts are efficient but all have their flaws and are only temporary solutions. This is why scientist developing new ways for burns victims to receive skin graft while making it eco-friendlier, society friendly and more long-term results.

Skin grafting techniques are constantly being develop and improved, some of the latest research in skin grafting has been the development of using stem cells. In 2002 the Bali bombings occurred where 28 victims were admitted into the Perth burns ward where some of the patients were treated on by using an experimental procedure at the time.[footnoteRef:9] The type of skin graft is known as spray on skin. This was first test of the spray on skin around the world and it had promising results. Since then scientist have been continuously developing the procedure and in 2018 clinical trials were held in the US, where spray on skin was applied onto third degree burns victim’s wounds.[footnoteRef:10] The spray was made by is made by using a skin biopsy, this is where a sample of healthy skin stem cells are harvested from the patient’s body. The stem cells are then dissolved in an enzyme which creates a spray on solution that is then applied to the wound. The treatment helps regenerate skin in the effected burnt areas. The results from the 2018 clinical trial was that there was that the spray on skin grafting needs development as the results of the third-degree burns victims shows that the graft that only last for a short-term time period but left less scaring. Development of the spray on skin is still happening where scientist are trying to develop a spray that last for long time while heeling still leaving less scarring compared to traditional skin grafts and meshing procedures.

The development of stem cells being used for skin grafts that heel third degree burns. Over the past two decades the development of the skin stem cell has opened path ways for scientist in new ideas and techniques that can change how a skin graft is applied. All the new developments can help minimalize scaring and make a long-term solution. The future development will help people who undergo the treatment be able to monitor and controls their bodies thermoregulation and complete everyday tasks that a non-burns victim can do.


  1. Cleveland Clinic (2020) Burns: Types, Symptoms & Treatment,, Accessed 12 February 2020
  2. Encyclopedia Britannica (2020) stem cell | Definition, Types, Uses, Research, & Facts | Britannica,, Accessed 12 February 2020
  3. Body temperature: Normal ranges in adults and children, (2020) , Body temperature: Normal ranges in adults and children,, Accessed 17 February 2020
  4. BBC Science & Nature – Human Body and Mind – Organ Layer, (2020) , BBC Science & Nature – Human Body and Mind – Organ Layer,, Accessed 17 February 2020
  5. MedStar Washington Hospital Centre Blog Centre View, (2020) , MedStar Washington Hospital Centre Blog Centre View | How stem cells and skin grafts are shaping the future of burn care,, Accessed 17 February 2020
  6. HCPro, (2020) , three types of skin grafts,, at:, Accessed 22 February 2020
  7. Healthcare IT Australia, (2020) , Australian developed spray-on skin for burns treatment seeks FDA approval,, Accessed 1 March 2020
  8. Understanding a Burn Injury | Model Systems Knowledge Translation Centre (MSKTC), (2020) , Understanding a Burn Injury, , Accessed 1 March 2020
  9. Pluripotent Stem Cells, iPS cells | Learn Science at Scitable, (2020) , Pluripotent Stem Cells, iPS cells | Learn Science at Scitable,, Accessed 9 March 2020
  10., (2020) , Skin grafts from stem cells – NHS,, Accessed 9 March 2020
  11. MarketWatch, (2020) , AVITA Medical Announces FDA Approval of the RECELL System for the Treatment of Severe Burns in the U.S,, Accessed 11 March 2020
  12. Burns & Trauma, (2020) , History of burns: The past, present and the future | Burns & Trauma | Full Text,, Accessed 11 March 2020
  13. New type of human stem cell may be easier to manipulate | Harvard Stem Cell Institute, (2020) ,, Accessed 13 March 2020

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Science As A Human Endeavour Investigation: Stem Cells For Skin Grafts. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from
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