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New artificial skin speeds up recovery from burns

The Yomiuri ShimbunMedical experts have developed a new type of artificial skin that can be used in treatment of serious burns and other conditions.

Kyoto University and Osaka-based major textile manufacturer Gunze Ltd. said Monday they had obtained on April 10 the government’s approval to manufacture and sell the prosthetic skin they jointly produced as medical equipment.

The new product will improve the pace of recovery seen with current skin replacement materials by two to three times, they said.

The product is expected to be put into practical use from next year.

The new artificial skin was conceived in 2005 by a group led by Kyoto University Prof. Emeritus Shigehiko Suzuki, a specialist in plastic and reconstructive surgery. The group took conventional artificial skin made of collagen and added a type of protein that helps increase the number of skin cells and blood vessels.

Gunze joined the project to commercialize the product.

Clinical tests and other examinations found that application of the new artificial skin on an affected part of a patient’s skin accelerates skin regeneration to two to three times faster than previous kinds of artificial skin.

The new artificial skin in the smallest size available measures 12 square centimeters and costs about ¥5,500. It can be covered by insurance when it is used for treatment of burns and diabetes-related skin diseases. The new skin apparently has the potential to be used in the treatment of tens of thousands of patients per year.

In the field of skin treatment, tissue-generated skin, which is produced through cultivation of the patient’s own cells, is already available in Japan. But this is less effective with patients suffering from serious damage deep in the skin.

Transplantable skin made from the skin of a donor has been developed overseas, but this type of skin replacement apparently costs about 10 times as much as the new product.Speech

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