Skin grafts from pigs 'could be used in burn treatment'

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

Scientists in the US have been able to develop a new type of pig that could be used as a donor for skin grafts in future.

Created by investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital, the specially-bred strain of miniature swine lack the Gal sugar molecule that is responsible for the rapid rejection of pig-to-primate organ transplants.

“Skin grafts from genetically modified pigs could form an important new option for the treatment of burns.“

Grafts taken from these animals were shown to be just as effective in covering burn-like injuries on the backs of baboons as skin taken from other baboons.

These findings could double the length of time burns can be protected while healing, opening the door for new methods of treating people who are suffering from severe burn damage to large areas of skin.

Study co-author David Leonard of the Massachusetts General Hospital Transplantation Biology Research Center and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Division said: "A high-quality alternative to deceased-donor skin that could be produced from a specially maintained, pathogen-free herd of GalT-knockout miniature swine would be an important resource for burn management in both civilian and military settings."

In addition to burns, skin grafts are used in the treatment of skin cancer and for certain cosmetic surgery applications.

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