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Yarn grown from human skin cells could be woven or knitted into ‘human textiles’

Scientists have created flexible yarn from human skin cells, which can be knitted, crocheted or weaved into unique patterns for medical purposes.  

The French researchers have already used the material in operations on animals, and say it could be used to make ‘human textiles’ for tissue grafts or organ repair in future. 

Cells called fibroblasts are used to make the versatile skin in a laboratory, which is then twisted to form threads that are can be turned into various structures. 

  

‘We can sew pouches, create tubes, valves and perforated membranes,’ lead author of the study Nicholas L’Heureux from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux told New Scientist. 

‘With the yarn, any textile approach is feasible: knitting, braiding, weaving, even crocheting.’ 

Unlike synthetic ‘skin’, which can trigger inflammation that hinders the healing process, skin made from fibroblasts is not rejected by the human immune system, making it perfect for medical procedures. 

Sheets of the skin were cut into thin ribbon-like bands and then twisted into yarns of various strength. 

These were then tested on animals to see if they worked effectively. 

An experiment on a sheep involved making a textile tube out of the material using a unique loom and grafting this into an artery. 

Blood flowed perfectly and the tube did not leak. 

An experiment on rats also used the material as a thread to close a cut in the flesh of the rodent. The animal healed up perfectly in 14 days.  

The research was published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia. 

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