An exosome engineered skin accelerates healing in severe and chronic wounds

From Advanced Science News by Francina Agosti 

An engineered skin with a new secret ingredient helps avoid harmful inflammation while speeding up the wound healing process.

Recently, a group of scientists have developed an engineered “skin” that could revolutionize the field of wound healing by mimicking natural processes in a safer and faster way than previously used techniques.

But all of this is not new and has in fact been used in other approaches. What differentiates this bioskin from others is the addition of stem-cell-derived exosomes.

Exosomes provide a boost

Exosomes are small particles released by cells all over the body, acting as cellular messengers, transmitting critical instructions to neighboring cells, via proteins, mRNA, or other biological molecules they carry. Previous studies have used stem cells as components of the skin scaffolds, which promote tissue repair and regeneration, but carry the risk of causing cancer. Instead, using stem-cell-derived exosomes can provide the same positive characteristics while avoiding the growth of tumors.

As the conventional wound healing process is often hindered by inflammation and slow tissue growth, the addition of tissue regeneration and anti-inflammatory signals brought by the exosomes could bring interesting improvements to this technology.

To test if this actually happened, the researchers meticulously examined the physical, chemical, and biological properties of their exosome-enhanced scaffold. In the lab, they examined how cells behaved in scaffolds built with and without exosomes, finding that the migration growth, and division of keratinocytes were greater when exosomes were present, allowing a better covered area in the scaffold.

“We speculated that the excellent keratinocyte coverage effect in the group with [exosomes] occurred because exosomes and fibroblasts played a synergistic role that accelerated the rapid proliferation of keratinocytes,” wrote the authors.

They found that the cells in the scaffolds with exosomes produced more proteins related to anti-inflammatory processes, as well as proteins that contribute to stimulating the regeneration of blood vessels, an important feature in effective wound healing. In later tests using mice, those treated with the scaffold containing exosomes showed the fastest wound healing compared to controls.

Further studies in mice confirmed that compared with a scaffold without exosomes, exosome bioscaffolds not only reduced inflammation but also fueled the proliferation of skin cells and promoted the formation of new blood vessels, ensuring a robust supply of nutrients to the healing tissue.

While further investigations are necessary before human testing, the potential applications of these exosome-enhanced skins are undeniably promising in the future of wound healing.

SourceAdvanced Science News

Wang Y, Zhang Y, Li T, Shen K, Wang KJ, Tian C, Hu D. (2023) Adipose Mesenchymal Stem Cell Derived Exosomes Promote Keratinocytes and Fibroblasts Embedded in Collagen/Platelet-Rich Plasma Scaffold and Accelerate Wound Healing. Adv Mater Epub ahead of print]. [article]

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