Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Blood and lymphatic capillaries grown for the first time in the lab

Researchers at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich and the University of Zurich have engineered skin cells for the very first time containing blood and lymphatic capillaries. They succeeded in isolating all the necessary types of skin cells from human skin tissue and engineering a skin graft that is similar to full-thickness skin.

Every year around 11 million people suffer severe burns. The resulting large, deep wounds caused by burning only heal slowly; this results in lifelong scars. What is needed to reduce this kind of scarring is the grafting of functional full-thickness skin.

Only a very limited area of skin can be removed from the individual patient as the surgery, in turn, creates new wounds. Besides conventional skin grafting, another option is to engineer a skin graft in the lab which firstly is composed of the patient’s cells and secondly is very similar to natural human skin.

Up to now these complex skin grafts didn’t contain any blood or lymphatic capillaries, pigmentation, sebaceous glands, hair follicles or nerves. The researchers at the Tissue Biology Research Unit, the research department of the Surgical Clinic and at the Research Centre for Children at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich have been engineering dermo-epidermal skin grafts for some time but now they have succeeded in constructing a more complex organ. “We were able to isolate all the necessary skin cells from a human skin sample and to engineer a skin graft similar to full-thickness skin that contains for the first time blood and lymphatic capillaries too”, says Martin Meuli, Head of the Surgical Clinic at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich.

Fully functional lymphatic capillaries generated for the first time
Tissue fluid is excreted from a wound which accumulates in a cavity on the skin’s surface and can impede wound healing. Lymphatic vessels drain off this fluid. The researchers isolated lymphatic capillary cells from the human dermis. Together with the blood capillaries that were also engineered, this guarantees rapid, efficient vesicular supply of the skin graft. Up to now, this had been a major unsolved problem in molecular tissue biology and regenerative medicine.

The scientists in the team of Ernst Reichmann, Head of the Tissue Biology Research Unit, were surprised by three findings. The individual lymphatic cells spontaneously arranged themselves into lymphatic capillaries with all the characteristics of lymphatic vessels. In preclinical trials both the human lymphatic capillaries and the blood capillaries engineered in the laboratory connected with those of the laboratory animals. “What’s novel is that the lymphatic capillaries collected and transported tissue fluid; hence they were functional”, explains Ernst Reichmann and goes on to add, “We assume that skin grafts with lymphatic and blood capillaries will, in future, both prevent the accumulation of tissue fluid and ensure rapid blood supply of the graft”. This could markedly improve the healing process and the typical organ structure of this type of skin graft.

The first clinical application of these complex skin grafts is scheduled for 2014. They will not, however, contain any blood or lymphatic capillaries as approval has still to be obtained.

Daniela Marino, Joachim Luginbühl, Simonetta Scola, Martin Meuli, Ernst Reichmann. Bioengineering Dermo-Epidermal Skin Grafts with Blood and Lymphatic Capillaries. Science Translational Medicine. January 29, 2104. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006894

Professor Martin Meuli
Head Surgical Clinic
University Children’s Hospital Zurich
Tel. +41 44 266 80 23
Professor Ernst Reichmann
Head Tissue Biology Research Unit
University Children’s Hospital Zurich
Tel. +41 44 6348911

Nathalie Huber | Universität Zürich
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New study reveals what's behind a tarantula's blue hue
01.12.2015 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Tracing a path toward neuronal cell death
01.12.2015 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How do Landslides control the weathering of rocks?

Chemical weathering in mountains depends on the process of erosion.

Chemical weathering of rocks over geological time scales is an important control on the stability of the climate. This weathering is, in turn, highly dependent...

Im Focus: How Cells in the Developing Ear ‘Practice’ Hearing

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular chain of events that enables the cells to make “sounds” on their own, essentially “practicing” their ability to process sounds in the world around them.

The researchers, who describe their experiments in the Dec. 3 edition of the journal Cell, show how hair cells in the inner ear can be activated in the absence...

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

European Geosciences Union meeting: Media registration now open (EGU 2016 media advisory 1)

01.12.2015 | Event News

Urbanisation and migration from rural areas challenging agriculture in Eastern Europe

30.11.2015 | Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Latest News

USGS projects large loss of Alaska permafrost by 2100

01.12.2015 | Earth Sciences

New study reveals what's behind a tarantula's blue hue

01.12.2015 | Life Sciences

Climate Can Grind Mountains Faster Than They Can Be Rebuilt

01.12.2015 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>