In the last several decades, medical research has made leaps and bounds in terms of advancement. From mapping the human genome to breakthrough techniques in oncology and cancer treatments, mankind has been pushing further and faster than ever before. Researchers are combining technological breakthroughs with biological advancements, creating a new era of medical treatments aimed at curing all sorts of ailments. However, of all the medical fields you hear about in the media and university studies, dermatology seems to be one of the less recognized. Dedicated to the understanding of hair, nails, and skin, the dermatology field is coming up on some exciting breakthroughs that could change lives forever. In order to give you a better glimpse into the future of dermatology, this article will focus on a few futuristic advancements that scientists are progressing on.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell treatment, which has been highly debated in the past, could very well be the solution to many of mankind's illnesses. Researchers in the dermatology field have found a way to harness the adult stem cells of a patient's healthy skin, culture skin cells, and apply them directly to burn victims. Skin grafts and transplants have always been risky. Infection, tissue damage, and rejection have always plagued traditional skin graft procedures. However, with this new stem cell technique, doctors could apply freshly cultured skin cells from the patient's own body, using what is called a skin cell gun.
The application, compared to previous grafting methods, takes only hours instead of weeks to complete. The cultured skin cells applied with the gun set and begin to heal in only a few days, which is considerably less than the months it would take for grafts to heal. If applied at the first signs of injury, the skin cell treatment could speed up recovery even faster, as the wounds are still fresh and open.
The skin cell gun is still undergoing FDA approvals for use in the United States, and there are a few hurdles remaining for the application process, but once the kinks are worked out, burn victims might be looking at an incredible new treatment option.
Hair loss, which plagues millions of healthy men around the world every year, has been an uphill battle for researchers. While there have been numerous breakthroughs in terms of drugs (Propecia and Rogaine) and procedures (hair transplantation), no one has been able to come up with a definitive cure. However, with the latest research being done in the field of hair cloning, society might soon be looking at a cure for male pattern baldness.
It is believed that progenitor cell deficiency of the hair follicle is responsible for hair loss. These deficient follicles are usually found on the top of the head, but the follicles found along the back and sides of the head are usually immune. Researchers are now attempting to take these resistant follicles, extract them from the immune areas of the scalp, and through inventive culturing methods, clone brand new follicles which can produce healthy, growing hair.
Once the follicles have been cultured, surgeons can begin inserting them directly into the balding area of a patient's scalp. The procedure would be very similar to current hair-transplant sessions, where surgeons make microscopic, lateral slits in the patient's scalp, and gently insert the follicle using precise angle and placement techniques. Once the brand new follicles are planted, in 3 months the hairs will sprout, and in 6-12 months the scalp should start to thicken significantly.
However, as promising as this breakthrough seems, researchers are still running into roadblocks. For reasons still unknown, only a handful of the cloned follicles are producing any hair. Research has not yet pointed to the exact cause of the issue, but hopefully with some time, a solution can be found. There are also some concerns with mimicking the natural angle of hair found at the top of the head. Tests have shown that the cloned follicles produce hairs that grow in random directions, causing a sometimes unnatural look for the patient.
Every day, new advancements in medicine and technology bring mankind closer to incredible breakthroughs in medical treatment. Dermatology, which hasn't received as much praise as other medical fields, is making monumental strides toward alleviating many of society's problems. From regenerating skin cells to curing baldness, there are some exciting advancements on the horizon.
If you want to learn more about advancements in the field of dermatology, speak with a professional like American Dermatology.Share