Artificial Skin: Characteristics, Raw Materials and Uses
Md. Mehedi Hasan Shibli
Department of Textile Engineering
Northern University Bangladesh
After taking out burnt / spoiled skin, surgeons covered the injury with a covering called artificial skin. It is a substitute for human skin produced in the laboratory, typically used to treat severe burns. It is a collagen scaffold that induces regeneration of skin in mammals such as humans. An ideal artificial skins should meet two opposing requirements. It should be sufficiently occlusive to prevent rapid wound dehydration and bacterial invasion, but it should also be permeable enough to allow passage of wound exudate. These opposing requirements have been met using microporous polyurethane structures.
Artificial skins have to be made from an elastic and flexible material to be applicable at irregular or flexing wound surfaces. It is an important application of medical textiles. Furthermore the material must exhibit good biocompatibility, must be sterilizable, and may neither provoke any toxic, allergic nor antigenic tissue reactions.
We can highlight artificial skins by the following points,
- Skin grafting is the procedure of replacing dead skin with live skin.
- There are two primary methods of skin grafting.
- Autologous skin graft & Allograft transfer.
- The Autologous skin graft transfers skin from one part of the body to another part. The allograft transfers skin from the body of other people/cadaver.
- Allograft cover only temporary cover, as they are quickly rejected by a person’s immune system.
- This skin is used in the skin grafting process.
Characteristics of Artificial Skin:
Artificial skin consists of two layers. A polyurethane skin consisting of two porous layers was developed. The top layer is supplied with micropores smaller than 0.7 µm whereas the bottom layer has a sponge-like structure containing pores with a size in the range of 50-200 µm.
- Bottom layer: It is made in such a way that it can regenerate the lower layer of real skin. The ingredients of bottom layer made a matrix of interwoven bovine collagen (a fibrous cow protein) and a sticky carbohydrate molecule called glycosaminoglycan , which imitate the fibrous pattern of the bottom layer of skin.
- Upper or Top layer: The upper layer is mainly a medical-grade, flexible silicon piece that imitate the top, epidermal layer of skin. The commercial name one of the artificial skins graft is Integra® & it looks somewhat like translucent plastic wrap.
Raw Materials for Artificial Skins:
Chitin is used to manufacture the artificial skin. A commercial artificial skin’s material has been produced from chitin fibers. Nonwoven fabric made from chitin fiber can be used as artificial skin, adhering to the human body for quick healing. Normally this fabric is effective in for treating burn wounds.
In addition, artificial skins can be developed by combining cells with either synthetic matrices, such as polyglycolic acid mesh, or natural biological substrates such as collagen and glycosaminoglycans.
Uses of Artificial Skin:
The primary uses of artificial skin is for the treatment of skin loss or damage on burn patients. Alternatively however, artificial skin is now being used in some places to treat patients with skin diseases, such as diabetic foot ulcers, and severe scarring. This skin may also be used to model human skin for research. It may also simulate skin for other research applications, including how skin is affected by UV exposure and how chemicals in sunscreen and medicines are transported through skin. Though artificial skin has benefited many people but it is expensive as the process to make such skin is complex and time-consuming.
Some Manufacturer of Artificial Skin:
- Human Bio Sciences Incorporated (India)
- Delhi Dressing And Surgicals (India)
- Intercytex Ltd. (UK)
- Medical Textiles for Implantationby H. Planck, M. Dauner, M. Renardy
- Medical Textile Materials By Yimin Qin
- Understanding the Healing Uses of Artificial Skin” thoughtco.com
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.