Capturing epidermal stemness for regenerative medicine

The skin is privileged because several skin-derived stem cells (epithelial stem cells from epidermis and its appendages, mesenchymal stem cells from dermis and subcutis, melanocyte stem cells) can be efficiently captured for therapeutic use. Main indications remain the permanent coverage of extensive third degree burns and healing of chronic cutaneous wounds, but recent advances in gene therapy technology open the door to the treatment of disabling inherited skin diseases with genetically corrected keratinocyte stem cells. Therapeutic skin stem cells that were initially cultured in research or hospital laboratories must be produced according strict regulatory guidelines, which ensure patients and medical teams that the medicinal cell products are safe, of constant quality and manufactured according to state-of-the art technology. Nonetheless, it does not warrant clinical efficacy and permanent engraftment of autologous stem cells remains variable. There are many challenges ahead to improve efficacy among which to keep telomere-dependent senescence and telomere-independent senescence (clonal conversion) to a minimum in cell culture and to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms implicated in engraftment. Finally, medicinal stem cells are expansive to produce and reimbursement of costs by health insurances is a major concern in many countries. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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