Stem cells, niches and scaffolds: Applications to burns and wound care

Suzanne M. Watt*, Jonathan M. Pleat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The importance of skin to survival, and the devastating physical and psychological consequences of scarring following reparative healing of extensive or difficult to heal human wounds, cannot be disputed. We discuss the significant challenges faced by patients and healthcare providers alike in treating these wounds. New state of the art technologies have provided remarkable insights into the role of skin stem and progenitor cells and their niches in maintaining skin homeostasis and in reparative wound healing. Based on this knowledge, we examine different approaches to repair extensive burn injury and chronic wounds, including full and split thickness skin grafts, temporising matrices and scaffolds, and composite cultured skin products. Notable developments include next generation skin substitutes to replace split thickness skin autografts and next generation gene editing coupled with cell therapies to treat genodermatoses. Further refinements are predicted with the advent of bioprinting technologies, and newly defined biomaterials and autologous cell sources that can be engineered to more accurately replicate human skin architecture, function and cosmesis. These advances will undoubtedly improve quality of life for patients with extensive burns and difficult to heal wounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-106
Number of pages25
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
Early online date26 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Bioprinting
  • Human skin structure
  • Inherited skin disorders
  • Lineage infidelity
  • Murine models
  • Skin grafts
  • Skin repair
  • Skin-on-chip
  • Stem cell memory
  • Substitutes


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