OHSU

Burn Injury

Severe skin burns often heal with significant scarring, causing substantial disability and disfigurement, permanently restricting mobility, and often resulting in the need for extensive reconstructive surgery. Elastin proteins are essential for normal skin flexibility and elasticity, but after early childhood, human tissues rarely make new elastin proteins. Because of this, the elastin is not repaired or replaced during the healing of burn wounds, resulting in a poorly-flexible collagen scar. Most current dermal substitutes or tissue-engineered skin do not contain elastin proteins, which may in part explain their failure to reproduce normal skin flexibility. Our hypothesis is that if we deliver the elastin proteins to the healing burn wound, the dermal fibroblasts within skin cells can cross-link these proteins and incorporate them within the scar tissue matrix, resulting in
a more flexible scar. This novel, cost-effective treatment could dramatically improve the lives and functional recovery for many thousands of burn patients.