Fetal wound healing is a poorly understood and a poorly publicized phenomena. While all adults and children heal by generating scars, early fetuses can heal scarlessly. This should be fascinating to many, but receives little deserved press, even though this observation is seen in mice, rats, dogs, pigs, and most importantly, in humans.
By understanding the principles of scarless healing in a fetus, perhaps we could achieve scarless healing in mature, born humans. This would cause a revolution in healing and scarring products; solving the eternal issues with burn scars, preventing contractures, scar and wound breakdown, and long-term damage from acne, and improving healing in visible areas that lead to personal and psychological damage.
In a review by Moore and co-workers, a tour through the major players of scarless wound healing are presented; be it cytokine, growth factor, cell type, enzyme, or cell surface marker. An exploration of some of the current products that employ these factors used in hospitals and clinics today is also provided.
Perhaps most noteworthy in this review of current literature, the authors point out that while much is known about fetal wound healing, there still exists a major problem in translating findings to meaningful results in human patients. Additionally, while much is known also about mature human wound healing, very few products attempt to mimic fetal wound healing and the fetal wound healing environment to achieve improved scarring outcomes in humans.
Importantly, understanding skin healing (the skin being our largest most accessible organ in the human body), offers us a window into scarring in other organs of the body. Many people are aware of the devastating effects of some common diseases, but have little knowledge that the maladies are related to scar deposition. COPD (or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Nephrosclerosis, Scleroderma, Liver Cirrhosis, Type I Diabetes, and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (or IPF) are all caused by the replacement of specialized organ cells with scar cells and scar collagen (and important protein found in scar tissue).
By using the lens of skin scarring, we may uncover cures for some of our most devastating and difficult to treat diseases.
Kindly contributed by Alessandra Moore.