Artificial Skin, by Katie Geldhart and Timothy Ma

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Artificial skin is the term used to describe any kind of material designed and used to replace naturally growing skin. The primary application of such materials right now revolves around treating individuals that have suffered severe tissue loss from disease or trauma (e.g. skin cancer, burns). Alternatively, artificial skin is now being used in some places to treat patients that suffer from foot ulcers [2][11]. Labs have also developed in vitro skin samples to be used for cosmetic and medical testing. This provides a cheaper and more ethical approach for testing surface reactions to topical treatments [1][11].

The most important goals of current artificial skin technologies are to provide protection from infection, dehydration, and protein loss after severe tissue damage. Each year, over 2 million people in the United States are treated for burns [2][11]. Artificial skin is employed to seal a wound quickly to minimize the amount of fluid lost by the patient and to limit bacterial intrusion. Integra is a brand of artificial skin commonly used in medical facilities today.

Overview of the Skin

Human skin is comprised of two primary layers, the dermis and the epidermis. The epidermis is the outermost layer and comprises of keratinocytes that vary in levels of differentiation. There are no blood vessels present in the epidermis which means nutrient transport occurs from the dermis below [2][11]. The dermis contains several structures important to skin function: hair follicles sweat and oil glands, and nerves are all found within the dermis [2][11]. Epithelial keratinocytes also originate from within this layer.

History of Skin Grafts


Ongoing Research