Technology

SKIN has designed and constructed a prototype bioreactor capable of growing and producing Composite Cultured Skin (CCS).

SKIN is currently undertaking final mechanical and technical testing of the bioreactor and the CCS development process in order to commence the next stages of the research and development process, including validation and human trials.

SKIN has a granted patent in Australia and patents pending in the United States and Europe.

With the use of the NovoSorb™ biodegradable polymer technology, plus the Composite Cultured Skin (CCS) developed by SKIN, burn wounds of any size can be treated and healed within six to seven weeks, without creating painful, poorly healing donor sites for the patient.

Composite Cultured Skin (CCS)

CCS is a tissue created in the laboratory from a patient’s own skin cells, to be used in place of a skin graft. The tissue comprises a bilayer structure, a molecular dermis (created by the patient’s own dermal cells, or fibroblasts) and a cellular epidermis (made from the patient’s own epidermal cells, keratinocytes). Co-culture of these two cell types allows SKIN to create a skin analogue, with dermal and epidermal components bound together by a basement membrane just like normal skin. This bilayer structure confers much greater strength and robustness than cultured epidermis alone and allows definitive closure of the wound. The dermis cannot be created without giving the fibroblasts a ‘scaffold’ into which they can climb and lay down collagen. The scaffold is a biodegradable polyurethane foam, exactly like the one used by Professor John Greenwood in creating the Biodegradable Temporising Matrix, manufactured and marketed now by PolyNovo Biomaterials Pty Ltd, of Port Melbourne, Victoria, and in clinical use globally for human burn and wound care.

Bioreactor

When growing CCS, a very large amount is required to cover the wounds left by an extensive burn injury. In order to grow enough to cover a human being (~1.7m2), a specialised environment had to be created – the bioreactor. This consists of up to 40 cassettes, each containing a CCS 25cm x 25cm, housed in groups of five (shoes), in a tower arrangement and all fed and wasted automatically under computer software control, without needing human contact (which can contaminate such cultured tissues). The bioreactor allows SKIN to take the cells harvested from a small skin biopsy from the patient (10cm x 20cm) to create up to 2.5m2 of CCS in 28 days.

SKIN will deliver enormous benefits to patients and health care systems around the world, including:

  • Reducing the need for single and multiple grafting operations
  • Reducing the length of hospital stay and rehabilitation times for patients
  • Improved physical and emotional outcomes for patients
  • Millions of dollars in savings per year in health care costs for hospitals
  • Making the Royal Adelaide Hospital Burn Service and South Australia a globally recognised centre of excellence for burn and wound care.