Now, getting a new skin is no longer difficult

Scientists have developed a cheap, ready-to-use artificial skin

Scientists from Polyskin, a spin off from New Delhi’s National Institute of Immunology (NII), have developed a ready-to-use, cheap artificial skin substitute from bio-material.

Polyskin has developed an innovative process where biodegradable polymer particles encapsulated with drugs can be self assembled into bio-membranes in a single step at room temperature and can be used immediately as artificial skin substitutes for burn and wound treatment.

When two bio-polymers, polylactic acid (PLA) and polylactic-glycolic acid, both USFDA approved bio-degradable and bio-compatible polymers, are mixed with some other chemicals and treated with ethyl alchohol, they form a fine layer called polyskin.
The NII team, led by bio-engineer Amulya Kumar Panda, and G Rajmohan and C K Anish, two doctoral students, stumbled on this miraculous bio-material.

Besides being easy to handle and able to reduce fluid loss and check infection, polyskin “helps in faster clearance of infection and better regeneration of skin. It is the cheapest alternative for treatment of burns, and above all the increased availability of PLA leads to increased affordability of the treatment,” said Rajmohan to Deccan Herald. 

While there is an acute shortage of skin that can be harvested from a dead donor and preserved for grafting on a burn victim in India, artificial skin that is slowly entering the Indian market is very expensive. For instance, a 10cm x 10cm artificial skin patch manufactured by Integra LifeSciences Corp can cost around Rs 40 lakh.  

Appropriate qualities
The artificial bio-membrane has most of the appropriate qualities to be a skin substitute-like film-uniform thickness, porosity to allow the wound to breathe and water repellant nature, the scientists claim. Importantly, “it dissolves on its own and can be prepared at room temperature,” said Rajmohan. “If everything goes well, our idea is to have an over-the-counter burn or injury treatment kit in a few years,” says Panda.

Besides applying for the Indian patent, the research work to evaluate the polylactide membranes and scaffold for wound healing, controlled drug release and three dimensional cell cultures are still in progress.

Polyskin already won laurels like second position at the 4th International Intel University of California, Berkeley, Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge competition and the India Innovation Pioneers Challenge in 2008.

Getting under the skin
* Polyskin is a cheap artificial skin substitute from bio material
* It is made out of biopolymers polylactic and polylactic-glycolic acid
* Besides being easy to handle, it helps to reduce fluid loss and check infection
* Polyskin helps in faster
regeneration of skin
* It can be stored in room temperature

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