Fetal cells are truly a marvel. Yes! It has been proven yet another time in a procedure in which doctors have used fetal skin cells to successfully heal young children with severe scalding injuries. The revolutionary procedure avoids the need to remove a patch of ones own skin for a graft.
The skin cells that are taken from an aborted fetus and grown in the lab into a sheet-like covering, is said to act like a "biological Band-Aid". The fetal cells were expected to act like a traditional graft, knitting together with the edges of the wound and being incorporated as part of the patient's skin surface.
Surprisingly, the fetal-cell patch didn't form a bond with the skin, but either dissolved or turned into a gel-like film that could be easily removed. This resulted in spontaneous healing of the wounds that would have taken days or months otherwise.
The bioengineer skin was used on eight children aged 14 months to nine years old, who had deep second- and third-degree burns to their hands, feet, legs or buttocks. Over an average of three weeks, the children's lesions were redressed every three to four days. Each time, a new fetal skin patch was placed over the burn and rebandaged.
The burns were found to heal in an average of two weeks when compared to traditional skin grafting where healing can take up to three months. This procedure was also found to eliminate the need for multiple interventions in young children and reduced the associated pain.
Rejection by the body's immune system also wasn't a problem because the fetal skin patch didn't become connected with the patient's own tissue, but just lay on top.
Still, a lot of experimental work needs to be done before doctors will know whether fetal skin can provide a more effective way of treating burns and wounds for both children and adults.